Tuscany was the only place in our entire trip that Gaurav and I had been to together, but had always wanted to return, and so we decided to repeat! A short drive from Florence, and we entered the beautiful town of San Gimignano. The heat was oppressive though, and the kids weren’t cooperating. Surprisingly and much to our dismay, Ayaan has developed somewhat of an aversion to pizza which made meal time challenging. And then, when we asked Ayaan to stop being on the phone once lunch was served, he uttered the dreaded bad word. And for that moment, the heat combined with the tantrum made me wonder whether coming to Tuscany (and the entire trip in general) was a good idea. We retreated to our agriturismo and after an unsuccessful attempt at getting the kids to nap, spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool overlooking the sprawling vineyards. The kids eventually had a late nap and Gaurav and I decided to leverage the opportunity to enjoy dinner without the kids at a beautiful restaurant back in the town of San Gimignano. We tried the pici – a simple spaghetti with garlic and the dessert Ive long craved since I left Italy – a chocolate panna cotta…that first bite, and it made me feel for that moment, that coming back to Tuscany (and the trip in general) was all worth it!
The next morning, we were off to a better start. We drove to Chianti for our appointment at Antinori, extremely excited to be visiting the ‘alma mater’ of one of our favorites – Tignanello. The winery was exceptionally stunning – founded back in the 14th century, it underwent a 100 million upgrade in 2012. From the wine making process and equipment to the tasting rooms and experience and of course, the wines itself, we were blown away! Following the tour and tasting, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch overlooking the vineyards and left several bottles of wine later.
Our next stop was Amorelli where a very friendly server talked us through a wine, olive oil and balsamic tasting paired with cheese, prosciutto and olives. We were surprised to learn that balsamic was the most expensive item on their menu (the best, and what Italians consider only real balsamic) is made only from grapes and aged for 10-36 years. Wow! That evening, in anticipation of Ariana’s second birthday, we went to a toy store to buy her gifts. We were pleased to find a wonderful kids play area above, complete with bouncy houses, water play, slides, ball houses and much more! The kids spent a fantastic hour there playing with each other and local kids. It’s fascinating to see that kids don’t really need to speak the same language to have a blast.
The next morning, Ariana opened her gifts and was thrilled with her new walking/talking (albeit in Italian) doggie and baby stroller. We then drove to Montalcino because we love Brunellos! We started at Altesino and then headed to Barbi for lunch where the kids enjoyed playing outdoors with their new toys. Our last stop was Banfi where I was excited to see the association with Cornell’s Hotel School #hotelieforlife. That evening, Gaurav had reserved a table at a wonderful terrace overlooking he vineyards to celebrate Ariana’s birthday. We started off by allowing her to open her bubbles and entertain herself until the food arrived. After a dinner of chicken and French fries, she devoured a panna cotta while we all sang to her. Later that evening, the kids enjoyed coconut gelato in the square before calling it a night. happy Birthday Ariana – we love you!
Being a part of Ariana’s exponential growth over the past six weeks has been particularly gratifying for us. Traveling with kids isn’t always easy but, for us, it’s been so worth it!