Danny and Amy Do Tuscany!
Let’s admit it.
We all love the movie Under The Tuscan Sun. But what’s it really like to live in a small town in Tuscany? When my mom and stepdad bought his great grandmother's 500 year old home in a 700 year old town, I knew that Danny and I would have the opportunity to find out. Vitiana is a medieval hilltop village a 30 minute drive from Lucca and a 90 minutes from Florence.
City Girl Mistake
Initially I didn’t understand why my mom laughed when we offered to take an Uber to her house to save her the drive. City girl mistake #1. This is the place where Ubers fear to tread. (And if Ubers don’t go there, does it really exist?) Vitiana is located 1,500 feet above sea level but feels so. much. higher. The winding road leading up to the town is a curvy, one-lane road with two-way traffic. Drivers honk when approaching blind corners to prevent a potential head-on collision. There are a few guard rails but not many, and I spotted only one traffic mirror. The key to survival is to never be overconfident, turn off the radio, and focus. Then there’s always prayers and luck. Consider the drive a focused meditation. Check out this video and you’ll see what I mean.
One thing I learned fast:
Just like Scar says in The Lion King, “Be prepared.” I hadn’t been in Vitiana an hour when I realized that I was under attack by the local mosquitos and you can’t just take a quick jaunt down to Walgreen’s for some repellent. You can’t just take a quick jaunt anywhere. Everything takes a little extra thought and planning since there are no stores, banks, etc. But let me tell you what there is. There is a lady that arrives very morning around 10:30 into the small town square with a van full of freshly baked bread, focaccia, and biscotti. There’s another woman who raises goats and cows and makes cheese. She also sells eggs, tomatoes, and whatever other vegetables happen to be ripe on that day. Everyone in town grows grapes and this time of year, the crusher moves its way through the streets. The juice and skin are for the wine, and the stems are used to make Grappa. When there is an event, and all summer there are events, (town dinner, talent show, community hikes, parties) the whole town turns out to support the effort, and dresses up for every occasion. These are wonderful and hardy people, several in their 90’s that still walk to the square to talk to their friends and pick up a loaf of bread. It’s a small village and for this to work everyone helps out.
The 300 Year Old Way
It’s how a real town works. Nothing about it has really changed because things are done the way they were 300 hundred years ago, and nobody feels the need to modernize when the old way works. And it does work, most of the houses are over 300 years old and still standing true, putting modern building techniques to shame.
Unplugging in Italy
Normally when I’m planning a trip, the first thing I do when booking a hotel room is to make sure there is a nice, big flatscreen television for my couch potato of a husband. The charming Italian villa doesn’t have tv or WiFi. Code red: No tv. No WiFi. As frightening as this sounds, it was liberating to be without those distractions and be mindful of where I was. We read, played games, and… talked to each other. And then there were times I really wanted to know what was happening on The Bachelor in Paradise.
The town itself is absolutely stunning. I mean, Insta-worthy shots to infinity. Vitiana would make an amazing backdrop for an Anthropologie catalogue or Hollywood film location. Luckily, those crazy roads and the protective nature of the residents have kept the place authentic and legit. The lack of Starbucks and souvenir shops have helped keep it special.
Final Night in Florence
Danny and I spent the final night of our adventure in Florence to try the famous Florentine steak, eat gelato, and ooh and aww over The David. And now we are home and Danny is back where he wants to be in front of the tv and here I am back at my computer.