Saturday, July 9, 2011

2011-07-09 Venezia!!!!

Venice is AMAZING. Took the train first thing this morning from Torontola-Cortona train station, then took a second train from Florence to Venice. When we landed, coming by water taxi to our hotel was so impressive. It is a sight you just never forget. We walked until we were all ready to drop. Took loads of pictures. We shopped and looked around for awhile then headed back to the hotel to get things together for tomorrow!

Friday, July 8, 2011

2011-07-08 Ballooning and Bicycling in Tuscany!

We got up soooooo early and made it to our hot air balloon ride! It was AMAZING to soar above the beautiful cities in Tuscany. We landed right near a huge sunflower field! We had an amazing lunch there after winding up the balloon, and then drove right back to be picked up for the bicycle tour! Everyone was EXHAUSTED and was SLEEPING trying to get l/2 hour rest in before the tour! We were SOOO tired, but the bicycle ride was AMAZING until Daniel got stung in the inside of his LIP by a WASP while riding his bike! Since he had previously had an allergic reaction to a wasp bite, we were really concerned (PLUS his growing lip wasn't looking good), but we thank GOD that it went down pretty fast and all we had was a benadryl. We had an amazing lunch overlooking the fields of Montisi, then learned about olive oil making and had an olive oil tasting! Back to Villa Scopetello to catch up and then out for an amazing dinner at DiFornello in Sinalunga. Then everyone packed and got ready for ANOTHER early start tomorrow to head to Venezia!

2011-07-07 Hiking in Cinque Terra

We were up at the crack of dawn again to catch an early morning tour leaving from Florence. Got on the tour bus and headed to Cinque Terra, where we did the amazing hikes to the different villages there. The hike was pretty demanding and it was very hot, but the views made it all worthwhile! Swam in the Mediterranean Sea and had lunch there, and walked around and toured the area. Took a boat ride back, caught a train, jumped on the bus, and back to Florence. We had dinner at a cute little streetside trattoria, and then a few gelatos and back to Villa Scopetello at about 1 a.m.!!! Had to get to bed quickly because we had to get up at 4:30 a.m. the next day for the rescheduled balloon ride!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

2011-07-06 Cancelled Balloon Ride and Cooking Lesson!

We got up VERY EARLY to get ready and get to the hot air balloon ride. We had quite a ride there, getting lost and going all over the place. Only to find out that the fog was too dense to go up in the air! A big disappointment, but we handled it well.

We went back to the Villa and back to bed! When we woke up we went to Sinalunga for lunch and found an amazing pizzeria. We finished lunch with a Nutella pizza! We then went back to the Villa to meet Elisa for our cooking lesson. The girls made an AMAZING dinner: summer minestrone soup, summer pepper soup with croutons, ricotta and spinach dumplings, homemade noodles tagliatelle and pesto, flourless chocolate cake and white chocolate mousse with peaches. The boys played tennis and hung out at the pool. They went and picked up a few groceries.

We got together and had an amazing dinner and fascinating discussion. It was unbelievable! Now we have to get some rest because tomorrow is going to be a long hiking day at Cinque Terra!~

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2011-07-05 Monteriggioni, San Gimignano & Siena

We had an amazing day. Started out with an INCREDIBLE family photo op now that Jesse and Amber are here. Great Bible study by Michael & Bethany on what God expects of US. Grabbed a fast breakfast here and then out the door to Monteriggioni. It was great to shop there, walk the wall a little, take some pictures and head out to San Gimignano. In San Gimignano we had lunch at an Osteria just inside the wall, split up and shopped and went to museums and then met back at the square. Then off to Siena. Siena was VERY challenging to find a parking space, and we ended up at the top of the hill driving into crowds on very narrow streets, and I have to say I was definitely riding the clutch with Gary's 9-passenger van behind me and the people and alley in front of me. We parked and enjoyed the entire rest of the day in Siena. Had a great dinner at a cute little Osteria, then back to our car to find TWO parking tickets each! We are going to work on getting off these, because we have NO IDEA why we have them!!! Came home and Hannah cut up a watermelon and we all hung out talking and eating watermelon, and now the boys are watching a movie!

Monday, July 4, 2011

2011-07-04 Fun in Montepulciano, Arezzo & Cortona

What fun we had -- started out with breakfast in Sinalunga, then grocery shopping, then back to Villa Scopetello. We then headed out to Montepulciano, an old walled town. We bought some pottery pieces there, had a good lunch and toured the town It was awesome to drive up the hill in our 15-passenger truck -- hard to even pass a car since the roads are so narrow. It was VERY interesting when we ended up in a PIAZZA (square) where there were no cars allowed! ha! Gary did well backing up and getting back on the road again. Went to Arezzo, where we shopped down a few streets and walked around. Then off to Cortona for dinner and gelato. We got home really late (about 11 p.m.) and AMBER AND JESSE were there -- joining us for the rest of the trip!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

2011-07-03 A Day in Florence

We got up early, had an amazing Bible study on Faith by Danny and Lizzy, and then we headed out for Florence, about 1.25 hours away. We piled into the same van and hit the streets. Did a lot of bargain shopping, wheeling and dealing on prices, ate gelato and pizza, drank cappuccino and espresso, and had an all around amazing day. We went to several piazzas, Ponte Vecchio, and Michaelangelo piazza. We saw the Santa Dominica Church and went to the Accademia Museo to see the statue of David. Cruised home in time for a few of the guys to jump into the pool and watch a movie, while others read.