The rental apartment where we live in Italy is huge by Italian standards. We have two large bedrooms and even 1.5 bathrooms, plus a small garage (not exactly a car garage, let’s say a Vespa garage!!) and even a small cellar.
By suburban North American standards it is “small”, however for anyone who has ever lived in a major city like Manhattan, you can understand that this much space is more than enough to live in and enjoy. Italy is one sixth the size of my home province of Ontario and there are 60,000,000+ people who live here (officially), almost DOUBLE the population of all of Canada!
Space is costly.
I’ve hosted friends and family before in my home because we have a living room large enough for a pull out couch and space for luggages and big dinners together. However, when my parents come to visit, they almost always rent a small apartment in Modena so they don’t intrude. Unfortunately this means that even if they stay in Modena for a week we don’t *really* get to spend time together. You know….that good quality time, of just hanging out and playing cards and doing nothing.
My parents come to Italy every summer to spend time with my dad’s family in his hometown. Even though they are here for months we usually never see each other for more than one week per year. My dad’s hometown isn’t exactly accessible…think of a place where you’re woken up by the sound of a donkey pulling a cart in the morning, and the local “hotspot” is the bakery at 6 am when the fresh bread comes out of the stone oven….it’s bangin’! Even though Italy is small, it is also filled with great distances. To get to my dad’s hometown by train/bus/taxi from Modena it would take me over 7 hours!
So, this year I had an idea.
Instead of meeting in either Modena or my dad’s hometown near Naples, I found a large farmhouse with a private pool in the Tuscan hillside. In a few weeks I’ll be sharing all about the Tenuta Nunzi Conti, a family-run Tuscan Winery that rents their 700 year old converted farmhouse and Villa within their private vineyards. There is a large Villa for rent and also two smaller apartments that I snatched up at the beginning of the summer, here are a few pictures taken with my phone!
I then convinced my parents to join my son, husband and I in the farmhouse for a week so we could all stay together. Pretending that this house is ours while playing boccee balls, exploring Tuscany and enjoyng hte pool! My older sister and her family decided to join us, so this week for the first time in YEARS I am with my parents, sister, brother in law and youngest niece and youngest nephew and it is wonderful.
I love my family. They are crazy but I love them. My dad put peaches in a bottle of Chianti Classico, my sister washed the espresso moka in the dishwasher, my son is going out of his mind with excitement, I freak out anytime a kid does anything remotely dangerous….we all get on each other’s nerves, and yet there is no one else we’d rather hang out with…..well…..maybe that’s stretching it, but let’s just say that we “get” each other!
Brothers from Different Mothers
Do you think it is possible to love a cousin as much as a sibling?
One of the best things about all of us being here together is that my son and my 6 year old nephew are really bonding. They were together last year for 4 days when we met up with my sister in Lisbon, but we didn’t have much time to really hang out and build a real relationship. This time, however, he LOVES his cousins and calls my niece his “fratellina” and his cousin his “amico cousin”! It is so cute.
I also LOVE hearing him have full conversations in English everyone. Raising him to be fully bilingual in Italian and English has been a huge priority for me since his birth, and this week makes it all worth it. I’ve written here about my 10 strategies for raising a bilingual child and I just know that I have to make a continual effort so that he never looses English.
I know this won’t happen every year. Who knows if we’ll have enough money to travel back and forth from Canada, rent apartments in Tuscany or have everyone’s vacation time coincide….but I’m grateful for this week. With grandparents around it is also nice to have a bit more personal space and freedom to do things that we normally wouldn’t be able to do, like wine tours and tastings!
Yesterday, my husband, sister, brother in law and I actually did a wine tasting together without the kids and it was great! In Tuscany, there are plenty of reasons to get dressed up and feel glamourous and I’m soon I’ll introduce you to the brand Dress Mavens with a style series dedicated to their custom made, affordable luxury dresses. This is the Emily dress I styled for a visit to the Verrazzano Castle.
I hope you are all enjoying the Ferragosto week (Ferragosto is the Italian holiday that happens on August 15th the officially marks the Italian holiday period. I’ve written about how all of Italy shuts down for Ferragosto here and the last few weeks of August, my favorite month of the year!
So…what I’m trying to say is.
I’m enjoying my summer and I’m away from my desk. If you’d like to reach me, leave a message at the sound of the tone and I will call you back. In the meantime, feel free to follow along on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!
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