Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Italy - Day 5 (Parma, Pisa, & Tuscany - oh my!)

We packed up our beautiful villa and said farewell to Niko, the renter, and his adorable children Sophia and Julio, and headed south, after snapping a few photos of our beautiful home, the drive up, and the neighbor out gardening...


Stunning drive that really resembled New Zealand.  We passed an impressive “roller blader”, which I am sure minimizes his sport.  He looked like he was cross-country skiing on wheels.

A highlight of any trip to Italy are the Autogrill fuel stations.  I mean really.  Their delis and cafes rival our best versions solely dedicated to the respective functions.  

And the Autogrill marshmallow selection is unparalleled :)

We stopped in Parma for lunch in the hopes of sighting and eating large wheels of parmesan cheese and parma ham.  After a walk through what appeared to be an art institute housed in old, stunning architecture – which is more the norm than having it housed in new architecture :)

We had lunch at the outdoor tables of Cavour, one of the many quaint cafes to enjoy a lunch of parma, ham, wine, pasta and caprese.

Our waitress recommended a visit to the Parma Duomo that was strategically close to the locals favorite gelato stop.  After meandering through the maze of streets and covering some of them more than once, we arrived at the gelato stop.  It did not disappoint!  Batting well so far on the wine and gelato…running needs an improvement plan!

Loved the image of the religious walking by.

(our motley crew)

Words cannot describe the beauty and serenity of the Duomo, made all the more stunning by the lack of crowds, allowing us to slowly meander about, admiring the paintings and architecture;..  

By Lily

(so reverent!)

Words can however describe the sound of the roped off gates around the alter tipping over and clanging one-by-one with a deafening and predictable cadence onto the beautiful marble floors as Gia realized that the velvet rope swings blocking off the majestic alter would not hold her weight!  Ugh!  She prayed for forgiveness in advance!

After our graceful exit we headed to Pisa.  The kids were very excited to see this famous landmark, which I attribute fully to the Pisa Lego set they built from the Lego architecture series before leaving home.

(the standard Pisa shot)

Lily's Tower of Pisa

Caden's Tower of Pisa

We managed to pull right up, find parking, and stand next to this stunning structure.  It was surreal. 
Tours were available for 8 years and up, so we opted to instead to depart for our hotel in the Tuscan hillside with the promise of swimming.

Beautiful drive, stunning views, and pool closed on the early side, so we headed into town for dinner.  All were ready for something other than pasta, so we skipped the customary first-course of pasta and had meat for all courses!, which we all were all badly craving at this point in our pasta tour.  Filets, ribs, roast beef, and chicken rounded out our order.  Yummm.  Fun night, seated outside with other boisterous Americans :)

One of the highlights of the night: Alicia at dinner comments, “Wow, those mussels look good”.  Lily replies, “I think it’s just his shirt”. J

(Some daily cuteness from little Gigi)

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