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Monday, October 14, 2013

Enchanting Tuscany - Part 1

We (my nephew and niece with family and friends) decided to visit Italy, Switzerland's southern neighbor, and spend a week in one of my favorite parts of the world: Toscana or Tuscany! It was a vacation for my family and friends and for me it was also an opportunity to do a little research for my WIP, a novel that takes place, in part, on a vineyard in Tuscany.

We started in the German part of Switzerland at 4 o'clock in the morning. Getting up that early was a little tough, especially because it was pouring rain. And it rained all the way to Tuscany. Rain storms in Tuscany are not unusual in October and they can be fierce. If you have seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane you know what I'm talking about. When we arrived in the villa on a hill outside of Cecina (near the Tuscan Mediterranean coast), it was still raining. Since we were a fairly large crowd (ten people), we rented one of those large Tuscan villas. We unpacked and went shopping for groceries and when we got back, the house was flooded and we had to move. That was only a minor wrinkle in our vacation because the agency, from which we rented the house, moved us to a more elegant villa for the same price. What a treat! And the next day, it was sunny again.

Here it is: Villa Bacio, a two-story house with a big yard and swimming pool.

A view from our house. All around us fields and hills stretched into the distance. The main vegetation aside from the cypress and Mediterranean stone pine forests: vineyards and olive groves as far as you can see.

Relaxing next to the swimming pool after the long drive--the water was a little on the cold side but we braved the waves anyway.

Here are some pictures of the inside of Villa Bacio. I love the Tuscan architecture with its vaulted ceilings, stone and mosaic floors, and the huge fire places.

Getting ready to cook! Swimming, hiking, or simply relaxing makes you hungry.

Cooking together with everybody pitching in was fun.
Dinner time! 
Relaxing after an action-packed (or lazy) day.
Brunch outside, surrounded by a lush and beautiful landscape. What more could one wish for?

No Swiss kid is ever far away from a hearty portion of chocolate. Our two youngsters, Severin (in the picture) and Megan decided it wasn't worth buying those small cans of Nutella. They got the real thing!

Pineapple bits topped with chocolate. Even Dad likes it!

The braver ones among us (my nephew and the two kids) went for a swim at night. Brrr!

I definitely preferred swimming during the day.
One of the many Tuscan hill towns nearby--Casale Marittimo.

A truly beautiful landscape--both charming and mysterious
On one of the days, my nephew and I took a trip to Volterra and a small vineyard nearby. This was part of the research for my novel with the working title The Italian Sister. More about that later.
Volterra, one of my favorite hill towns!



  1. Oh, how beautiful! I can't wait for the next book. But next time, hand the camera to someone else once in a while so we can see you in those beautiful places. :-)

    1. Thanks, Linda. Well, that's the destiny of the photographers. They are usually missing from the shots. But don't worry, there is definitely one of me at the wine tasting!

    2. "there is definitely one of me at the wine tasting!"

      Only one??? I'm sure every tourist in the vicinity was snapping shots of you at a wine tasting! Oh my! Did anyone else get to taste? Uh huh. CHEERS!

    3. Ha, yes, of course, someone else got to taste. It's much more fun that way!

  2. What a beautiful blog, Christa. I'm so envious. I long for the day when I can return to Tuscany. Such a beautiful place. Hope you're getting fantastic inspiration for your next book. Thank you for sharing with us.

    1. Thanks, Lisette. Yes, I was getting inspired. I have to find a way to spend some more time there!

  3. What a fantastic trip and such beautiful country. The villa you stayed must have been wonderful with the pool and the view. A group trip and renting a villa looks like the way to visit Italy. I can't wait to hear more about your trip and the vineyards!

  4. Looks like so much fun. I love when everyone pitches in and makes the meal. Lovely scenery.

    1. Thanks, Darlene. Yes, it was so much fun and I never get tired of the Tuscan landscape, its fields of vines, olives, stone pines, cypresses, and lovely hill towns!

  5. Looks like you all had such a wonderful time! My family and I rented out one of those Tuscan Villa Rentals too! We get it for about three weeks next month and I am beyond excited! Any tips on some must see or do things while we are there?

    1. Hi Joan and thanks for stopping by! There is so much to see in Tuscany. I really loved the hill town of Volterra. It's smaller than for instance Siena but fascinating. If you don't know Tuscany at all, Siena is of course a perfect place. So is Florence, the city of art. If you like wine, places like Montalcino and others nearby are perfect. I got a lot of my information out of a wonderful travel guide by Rick Steves, Florence & Tuscany. I have two more posts on Tuscany, part 2 and 3 on my blog, if you're interested. Wishing you a great time in Tuscany!