This post is extremely delayed – 3 months delayed to be exact…
A look back to our latest holiday in Italy – last October!
This was one of those trips that took us a while to plan. We didn’t know where to go! South Africa and Canada were the other options this October but the wedding of one of Matt’s University friends Luane helped swing the decision to Italy! (again)
The wedding was in Rome in a beautiful old chapel near the Coliseum, called Santa Maria in Tempulo. So we booked an Airbnb as close as we could. We found a perfect location on an old street between the Forum and the Circus Maximus – literally on the Palatine Hill! You couldn’t get more ancient Roman if you tried!
This was such a good base to do the bits of Rome we missed last time – i.e. the Coliseum, the Forum and the Palatine Hill of course!
But first The Wedding…
Our Sunday morning walk to Santa Maria in Tempulo was much more relaxed than we expected. Why? Because to celebrate the wedding and the arrival of so many distinguished international guests, the mayor of Rome organised a race called Urbs Mundi (City of the World) on that Sunday from 9-11am. Most appropriately it started and ended a few meters from the chapel and this meant, no cars were allowed to drive along the race route. If you have been to Rome and have experienced the usual traffic, you can appreciate how special it was, to have the Roman roads all to ourselves and the few joggers of course.
The Wedding itself definitely broke a new record. It was the fastest wedding we’ve ever been to! In and out in under 15 minutes.
After the Ceremony, everyone got on a bus to the Appian Way and strolled along the old cobblestones of the ancient Roman road (in full wedding regalia) to the divine location of the wedding reception. The soundtrack of which was provided by a 5-piece Brazilian Samba band (the bride is Brazilian).
We danced and ate and laughed and drank until Amelie turned into a pumpkin and we had to get an Uber back to the apartment.
The sites of Rome
Amelie’s reaction to the ephemeral beauty of the hills of ancient Rome – “Mummy, why is everything so broken?” She was right of course but could have pretended to be more impressed by the piles of old rocks.
She was however quite taken aback by the grandeur of the Coliseum, but mostly because there was an exhibition about how farmers had used it to keep animals after the fall of the empire. That’s how it goes when holidaying with a three-year-old!
The evenings we spent in Trastevere, one of our favourite neighbourhoods. Perfect for going out for dinner or drinks and for strolling along the lovely little shops. A restaurant that we would definitely come back to was Tonnarello.
Then we travelled up the coast to a place somewhere halfway between Rome and Pisa that we thought was a typical touristy seaside town called Talamone. Except we were mysteriously the only tourists. (That includes Italians)
We initially found the place because it combined Tuscany with the Mediterranean coast and we just felt like we needed some sea vibes for a few days.
At our hotel, we were literally the last guests before they closed for the season. So we had the hotel, the restaurants and the endless beaches near Bagno Tirseno to ourselves! Amelie’s loved running around these empty beaches and building turtles or sand cars.
We did a day trip to Porto Santo Stefano, a gorgeous port town sitting on top of the mountain of Argentario. I let the pictures speak for themselves.
Medieval Manhattan in Tuscany
Next on our trip was a grand return to the rolling Tuscan hills. We booked back into a small Agriturismo “B&B Ponte a Nappo” we stayed at last time in the shadow of the ‘Medieval Manhattan’ of San Gimignano. Again we were almost the last tourists there and had the pool, breakfast and the cat to ourselves.
We just love this place and it was a great base to visit some of the great sites of Tuscany and to eat some more of the world’s best ice-cream – Gelateria Dondoli. Two years later Amelie had significantly improved her ice cream eating skills.
We returned to the beautiful old city of Siena and encountered something quite rare and spectacular. Men in tights waving flags and banging drums. Now not knowing what these tight wearing men were up to, it felt natural to follow them. We followed them into the Piazza del Campo in a procession of dozens of men in different colour tights waving flags and banging drums. It was a display for the president of Italy. We googled him so we could see which one he was. he waved his hand, the tight wearers waved their flags, he got in a car, and then it was done. Brilliant.
Florence had no tight wearing drum bangers, but it did have a carousel and an amazing rooftop terrace and bar on top of Hotel Continentale above the Ponte Veccio. It was that day in Florence when Amelie developed her love for Margherita pizza.
Truffle hunting with pups
On our last proper day in Tuscany we decided to treat ourselves and do a combination truffle hunt with Francesco Ventroni and wine tasting at Tenuta Torciano Winery. This was my personal highlight of our Tuscan escape and I have decided, we are going to get a truffle hunting water dog – one day! These hardworking super intelligent dogs sniff out truffles close to the roots of trees in areas with low water tables (good for truffle growth) and are rewarded for each truffle find with some dry bread and a lot of love.
The wine tasting was equally as wonderful, and there were two very expensive bottles of wine forced awkwardly into Matt’s bag. Also, they had chickens named after famous celebrities. Meet James Brown and Lady Gaga – see below:
All in all, it was another wonderful Italian adventure. See some of our previous trips through Italy here: