Snapshots from Italy: A Five-Family Vacation in Tuscany - Page 2

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tuscany villa
A VIEW FROM THE TOP: The Tuscan countryside from one of the village vantage-points  (Linda Samuel)

Months later, from our first tour of Il Casato, the house exceeded my expectations. The bedrooms appeared even larger than depicted, the manicured grounds included a long stretch of soft grass perfect for child play and adult lounging, the infinity pool sat about 50 yards from the house, down a stone path overlooking a valley of gently rolling hills quilted with green- and peach-hued fields, thriving vineyards, and clusters of red poppies. The airy interior, with white walls, terra cotta floors, oak beam-lined ceilings, and sweeping archways, was tastefully decorated with elegant-but-sturdy antique furniture. I breathed a big sigh of relief—having picked the villa, I'd felt pressure to come through with a gem. Now I could finally relax and enjoy.

We kicked off our vacation with a family-style meal, arranged in advance and prepared by the villa's caretaker, Roberta. Platters of thinly sliced prosciutto and salami, fresh mozzarella cheese, gnocchi smothered in pesto, and slow-roasted chicken made their way up and down a long wooden table in the stone loggia that opened onto the villa's courtyard. Two of the children sat at the heads of the table and declared themselves the king and queen of the evening. As we feasted on the scrumptious fare, consumed a few too many glasses of wine, and shared conversation as rich as the food, we couldn't help but muse—despite the risk of jinxing ourselves—that we’d made a pretty good start to the week ahead.

We spent the next six days alternately hanging out at our home base and exploring the nearby hill towns. When the kids' schedules synced up, we toured the towns together, but each family took at least one day to journey on their own. We rolled our strollers up and down the hilly streets of Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, Cortona, and Montalcino, all within easy driving distance for antsy young passengers. We took in the Piazzo del Campo scene, sampled the famous Brunello wine, and enjoyed impromptu picnics at ancient palazzos.

During our days at the villa, we hung out by the pool with the kids, tossing a Frisbee on the lawn, unwinding with books, and enjoying both the company and the place. The children stayed busy with toys, each other, and the vast property to explore. They were obviously delighted with their extended gang of playmates, both young and adult. We all were, in fact.

No matter how we filled our days, we reunited by late afternoon each day for a dip in the pool, leisure time on the lawn, and more family-style dinners in the loggia. We capped the evenings with laugh-inducing games of charades, Scrabble, and chatter about both our wilder, pre-children times together and the amusing adventures of life with kids.

As always seems to be the case when you’ve managed to stumble onto a little bit of vacation paradise, the week came to an end faster than we wanted, but we all left with excellent stories and photos, including the now-iconic shot of five babes tumbling on the lawn.

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Best Hotels in Tuscany

$141-$247
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Berchielli Hotel Florence
$185-$244
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Santa Maria Novella Hotel Florence
$268
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Villa Olmi Firenze - MGallery Collection
$117-$278
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Starhotels Tuscany Florence

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