"The Tuscans have the faculty of
making much of common things
and converting small things
into great occasions"
From watching "Under The Tuscan Sun" with my mom in middle school, to hearing (every single) Food Network show reference "the wine and fields of Tuscany," to the "Everybody Loves Raymond" episode where they visit they area, to mom's personal stories, to the early years of web-surfing and finding pictures of Chianti to save as my computer background (set in a grid pattern, that cut off the images on the right side of the screen) I feel like Tuscany has been a place since childhood that has called for me.
When we officially booked this trip Caleb said he wanted to do a driving day through Tuscany to see "the green grass and pointy trees and rolling hills." My heart holds vivid, momentary snapshots of this day that are too many to write about, and just so perfect it made me want to cry. One example: an old, tan wrinkled woman in a long sleeved, ankle-length black floral dress, with a red and yellow apron, thick grey hair rolled like a mother duck in her nest on her head, sweeping her dusty porch off with a wooden-and-straw broom. Colorful clothes hung across the porch rails, lemon tree branches rebelled by sneaking through their other sides. We buzzed passed her as her house was perched on slim shelf of stone along a curvy mountain "highway" road. We were in the dead-center of this countryside, and kept meeting village after village, up steep slopes, wiggling back down (like the popular dance party song lyrics: "How long can you go? Can you go down low? All the way to the floor?") -- down all the way to the floor, and then we'd lift the nose of our rental car back up-up-up! and find ourselves sailing into another hill, another pile of hills, another field of flowers, another vineyard, another crumbling castle look out. For hours we drove, stopped, photographed, loaded back in the car, found coffee, drove, photographed, found water, photographed, got back in the car, found pizza, drove, photographed, again and again.
It was nearly impossible to narrow down the pictures to the few I posted here... but hopefully you'll get the idea. I know I'll never be able to forget it.
Copying from my Instagram post about the thermal baths in Saturnia: "One of our favorite family-friendly places we went was the Terme di Saturnia thermal baths. The hot springs are about 99° F and bursting out of the earth like a dozen enormous fire hoses. I loved the legend behind them: 'According to the Etruscans and Romans, the Terme di Saturnia were formed by lightning bolts, thrown by Jupiter. During a violent quarrel between the two mythological deities, the bolts thrown towards Saturn had missed, causing the formations.' Beauty and fascination aside, the water is REALLY good for you! Full of dissolved sulphur, carbon, sulphate and a number of other earthy minerals. 'The baths are well known for their therapeutic properties, offering relaxation and well-being through immersion.' It felt fantastic -- like a hot tub in the next dimension. And the kids played hard in the water and sun... which almost always leads to the best, deepest naps. It was a lovely, quiet ride out of Saturnia! 🙈😂 (Oh! Almost forgot: it's completely free to park, play, and spend all the time you want!)"
The color of the water was spellbinding!!
We ended our day chasing the sun to the water. If you've been around for a while, you know that I love to actually see the sunset. Watching the sun set outside is one of my favorite parts of life and we had a lot of making sure that happened every day of the trip. We took the road out of central Italy that would get us to the Mediterranean Sea coast fastest.
Laughing until your stomach cramps and your cheeks burn. What's the name for that? A bite of food so good you close your eyes and go "Mmmmm" subconsciously. What's the word for that? Anyways, I'm looking for that word. This hour was just exhilarating for us. Flying down the road, loudly moaning as I wailed to Caleb "I can't believe we're passing wheat fields in Tuscany at golden hour and we're not stopping!!" He'd always say, "Do you want to stop? We can stop! Are you sure?" "Yes! I want to be on the water for sunset. I want to see the colors of the ocean. Keep driving...waaaah! It's golden hour in Tuscany and we aren't stopppppinng...!!"
The GPS showed that we were getting close and we realized there was a mountain's shadow cutting off sunlight sooner than we were planning for. "Be safe but go faster! Go go go but don't crash us but get that sun!" We whirled into a tiny seaside town, turned left, and I practically rolled out of the car like a stunt-double. The pleasure of my eyes rose and gained in thrill and I just wanted to run and shout and cry and hug the vital organs out of my people. Aka: adrenaline was rushing hahah.
We parked next to these creepy, beautiful trees framing the coast and then kicked sand in a completely deserted beach (it wasn't until we were pulling out that we said "Hey, where are the people? Is it safe here? OH well! We're fine!")
Rowdy's favorite book right now is "The Diggin-est Dog," so he got into character and started pawing sand into the sun's eyes. I vacillated between giving Caleb the camera and grabbing it out from his hands while "screaming" "LOOOOOK AT THE COLORSSSS!"
In hindsight I should have brushed, or fluffed, my hair or put on lipstick or something. We were all matted from the hot springs water that had dried in the car... but I was too delirious and Tigger-like to care. What a scene we must have been. Skipping and running into the wind with arms wide open and just being happy on a no-name beach in Italy together. The kind of "crashing down onto you happiness" you can never plan for, but are always kind of looking for. A gift of a moment and memory. And worth it's weight in jetlag, toddlers on red-eyes, and spilled wine at dinner to share it as a whole family.
Up next: Florence!