It's funny but I feel a little guilty raving about what a wonderful time we had and even admitting to having been. It was an extravagance that I don't usually have. I haven't been abroad for about three years since my little trip to France for lunch. I have long been promising the children a trip somewhere warm, somewhere beautiful and a new cultural experience. So this year they held me to my promise.
As always, I arranged our adventure myself. There is so much cash to be saved by cutting out the middle man and it really isn't that difficult to do. For five of us to fly to Tuscany and the rent of our lovely rural farm house, it only cost £750, (£150 each)! I thought that was a really good deal.
My secret? It's the sites Wimdu and Trip adviser. A good friend of mine recommended Wimdu to me a couple of years back. She uses it to find accommodation mainly when she's travelling alone. Basically, Wimdu consists of folk who let out their homes or holiday lets or even rooms within their homes; to travellers. If you are a single person, it makes complete sense to stay in the home of a family so that you have a point of contact, you can ask them for advice about the best places to visit, someone is always looking out for you and you get to experience the culture first hand. It's a win win situation.
Our little Tuscan farm house was solely let as a holiday retreat. It was set just a mile or so outside the little village of Riparbella and overlooked olive groves and fields of vines. I became totally emerged in the atmosphere of the early rising folk who set to work tending their crops. The temperature reached 36 degrees in the middle of the day, I cannot imagine having to engage in physical activities in such extreme heat!
We hired a little Corsa; as we were in a rural location. Again if you book well in advance this isn't an expensive thing to do and it is great having freedom to come and go as you please. Having said that, it might be another adventure altogether negotiating the public transport system!
Riparbella was really conveniently located for visiting many local sites. Driving wasn't a problem once you got used to the road system. The only downside to travelling were the windy roads. There are main roads but not to all places, many of the roads were really very wiggly, consisting of several hair pin bends; this means that it takes much longer to get anywhere as you have to stay in a low gear and really concentrate!
Tuscany is soo beautiful! Think, red brick buildings, terracotta pots and bright coloured geraniums....arrr!! I found myself snapping away with my camera frequently, trying to capture all the loveliness so that I could savour it to devour at another time.
Let me share some of those gorgeous views with you......
Quaint little cobbled streets
Beautiful red brick buildings
Small boy catches crabs
Street sellers eating a living
Incredible architecture in Florence
Glorious 'White Sands'
Den building in our garden
Fishing in hidden pools.......
Bryn's birthday treat!
Hidden alleyways......I loved the terracotta, shutters and laundry hanging to dry over the streets below.
Don't mind if I do!
The Duomo in Sienna
Inside the Duomo
Imagining a spot of sailing.....
Washed up on the sand
Loving those geraniums...
Feeling the water washing over my toes.....