Our Tuscan Road Trip

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We finally went on that road trip to Tuscany that we had been planning for ages last month during our kids’ autumn holidays.  Our first stop was Milan, to meet up with Joel’s former colleague on his first job offshore Palawan.  We spent the rest of the afternoon reminiscing the good old days over some gelatos. Joel’s friend then led the way to show us where to get good shopping bargains! Though that wasn’t on our agenda the bargains were really bargains and so we capitulated and just had to buy fleece jackets for the kids. It was a bit warmer in Milan compared to Groningen and they were wearing very warm winter jackets which weren’t appropriate – so goes the justification for the purchase.

milan
first things first! gelatos! at the Doumo.

We then drove to this little village in the middle of nowhere called Pignone.  The village elders were seated around its small piazza while the youngsters were playing a game of football.  Reminded me so much of the small villages or barrios/barangays in the Philippines where the elderly normally sit around the village square in the afternoons to chat about the goings on of the day while the children are busy minding their own ‘business’.

We asked around for the directions to the B&B we’ve booked but found it was a bit of a challenge as they don’t speak English. However we understood casa and rosa and so we managed to find the pink house in the village.  As it was off season, we were the only guests for the night.  The family run B&B was lovely. It has a small garden patch, a small cafeteria that also served delicious dinner and hearty breakfast.  Best thing however was the view from the terrace.  Joel took the photo below in the early morning when the village is still partly covered with fog.

pignone
village of Pignone – lovely view from our terrace

From Pignone, we drove to the coastline towards Monterosso, one of the five villages of Cinque Terre, facing the Ligurian sea.  It was a challenging drive as the roads are quite narrow and winding and very steep.  However the views are worth it!

monterosso
Monterosso al Mare

The kids had fun in the sand collecting stones and seashells.  In the cliff, one can see Neptune, made by the sculptor who also made bronze door of the Duomo in Milan!  There was also a small playground for the children closer to the center of the village where the shops and restaurants are.

monterosso2
yay! beach!
monterosso3
view of the other side of Monterosso

A visit to Cinque Terre is not complete without having the Italian cured meat board (not sure how to call it properly). Believe me, it’s soo good it will make you cry!  I would go back to Italy even just for this:)

curedmeats
cured meat and cheese board. tastes better than it looks. and it looks pretty good!

We tried driving to the next village but had to detour as we found the roads were even narrower and seemed more dangerous (no barriers in places, very narrow for 2 lanes, you will have to wait in the ledges to let other cars pass as the space is too narrow for two cars in some places).  There might be some other way other than what our GPS has selected but we decided instead to head on to Pisa which is on the way to Florence. Looked that it will topple over anytime, but still open to the public so somehow it won’t. Just yet.

pisa
The leaning tower of Pisa

Florence is our last stop.  What can I say about the birthplace of the Renaissance where the greatest Italian artists flourished? Leonardo, Michelangelo…it was easy of course to introduce them to the kids – thanks to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  We visited the Da Vinci museum where replicas of Leonardo da Vinci’s experiments were showcased.  He had the mind of a genius, whose imagination was way beyond his time.  Our kids liked tinkering and checking out how things worked so they thought this museum was cool.

After the visit to the museum and the Florence Cathedral we crossed the Arno river via the Ponte Vecchio with the promise of gelato on the other side! Jewelry shops line the Ponte Vecchio so if you are into jewelries this might be something for you.

bridge
The Ponte Vecchio

Energized by the gelato break, we continued our walk further up to Piazzale Michelangelo where we were rewarded by the best views of the city of Florence.  And how best to wrap up a road trip that started with gelato? With gelato of course.

florence
Florence – birthplace of the Renaissance
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