Tuscany + Olive Grove + Sunset = Magic

When in Tuscany, portrait shoots at sunset in olive groves are highly recommended.

We scrambled this shoot together at the last second. We had passed a gorgeous olive grove up the road earlier that I knew I wanted to use for a photoshoot. It suddenly occurred to me that the sun was going down, we had the next couple of days packed full of plans, and after that there was rain on the forecast. So if my sunset photo op was going to happen, it would have to be right that second. :-) I woke Tara up from her nap and we ran down the road to catch the last bit of sun filtering through those perfect trees.

I'm putting olive trees on my birthday list this year.

Toscana | Personal

If I had to choose between Venice and Tuscany, I don't think I could. They were both so different and so incredibly beautiful. And both places have you thinking, "How is this a real place and how am I actually here?!?"

We stayed about 20 minutes outside of Firenze (Florence), in a villa nestled right in the hills of Tuscany. If it sounds idyllic, well... it was. The villa itself was charming and we were so warmly welcomed by the owners that by the end we felt like part of the family. We had the villa to ourselves but the owners' parents live on the same property and they come up nearly every day to check on things. 

We spent this leg of our trip relaxing, driving around the Chianti region, feasting our eyes on the incredible scenery, and exploring the darlingest little towns. And eating. Ohhh, eating very, very well. We absolutely loved our time here and can't wait to go back. :-)

Such a view!

Olive grove dreaminess. More portraits from this evening to come. :-)

An obliging rock took our picture...

Off to explore! Niccolo, our host, driver, and tour guide, knew all the best places to stop for pictures and entertained us endlessly with stories both historical and personal. :-)

One of the castles we visited.

My personal favorite town - Montefioralle.
Now I know where all those Pinterest pictures come from.

The charming little square in Greve where we took our lunch break.

Our lunch spot! And the signature black rooster that you'll find on everything due to local history.

Gelato. Of course.
It was a special flavor, only available in the Florence area, named after the inventor of gelato, called Buon Talenti. Double cream. Heaven.

More pussy encounters!

Volpaia, a tiny town that makes wine. All the buildings are old, but inside they house modern wine-making facilities.

Awesome little tunneled street!

And our last stop, Radda.

Radda has a cool underground street.

Best cappuccino ever.

Barbara (Niccolo's wife) cooks authentic Tuscan dinners and offers cooking classes at the villa. We had dinner our first night in town and it was amazing... we were so stuffed but it was absolutely one of the best meals we've ever eaten. So a couple of days later, we learned how to create a few of the dishes.

Tiramisu in the works

Crostini with tomato and garlic

All the herbs were fresh from the garden, of course.

Crostini with walnut cream, and involtini prior to cooking

Leek and saffron risotto!

Visiting with the horses...

Niccolo's antique Vespa that he's hoping to restore!

Into Firenze for the day! It was a very cloudy day so I took limited photos.

Loved this adorable purse in a leather shop! 

Such a cute baby car!

The restaurant where we had dinner... Ravioli with sage butter sauce... I nearly licked the plate.

Italy was an amazing, beautiful experience; there aren't words for the wonderful time we had. Thanks for following along in my (prolonged) retelling of my travels! Ciao!

(P.S. If you missed Rome and Venice, click here and here). 

Venezia | Personal

Ahh, Venice... where to begin?! After our first two days in Rome we hopped on a train for the second leg of our trip. I was squealing before we were even out of the Venezia train station. Rome was amazing, but didn't hold a candle to this. :-)

We stayed in a tiny bed and breakfast somewhere in the heart of the city, that you would never know was there unless you were a guest. It was fun to go "home" each night to just a regular door on a regular street and feel like a native Venetian!

We had basically no agenda in Venice. All we wanted to do was wander around and get lost, and that's what we did. It's impossibly charming. Every bridge and canal you cross is cuter than the last one - hence why this post is way too long and I'll congratulate you if you make it to the end. I couldn't decide which darling canal view to eliminate so I pretty much just posted them all. You're welcome.

So, without further ado, here's my take on one of the most unique and delightful cities on earth. Hold on to your hats...
Stepping out on the grand canal from the train station. And falling immediately in love.

That door. #obsessed

Shimmering at night.

Aside from being adorable, Venice boasts the most amazing paper and pen shops.
I was swooning.

Piazza San Marco at night. A favorite Venice memory...

We listened to the various quintets taking turns performing in the cafes (all of them invariably with an accordion!) and Tara & I waltzed on the piazza to the Blue Danube.

Gelato. Of course.

Next morning we were off exploring!

Itty bitty streets...

Very talented glass musician!

We had cat encounters in all three of our Italy destinations. :-)

Pizze for lunch... again.

And a gondola ride!

The daily gelato!

That morning we saw a poster hanging in our B&B advertising a Vivaldi concert.
At a church where Vivaldi performed.
We went.

It was incredible! Insanely gifted musicians.

The next morning Tara & I got up at the crack of dawn to take some portraits. Unfortunately it was cloudy so we didn't get a sunrise. But I'm still not complaining about this light!

She took a few for me as well. :-)

Here she's laughing because some Italian fellows boated by on the canal, exclaiming, "Bellissima!"
Apparently that really does happen in real life, not just in the movies.

On the previous day I had noticed so. many. awesome. mail slots. I made it my goal to start taking pictures of them, and then of course only passed one cool one for the remainder of the trip. -_-
Going back for the mail slot tour next time.

Getting a picture of me mailing my postcards.
Sometimes I'm just shamelessly touristy.

Back to the Piazza San Marco

We stumbled on a tiny Vivaldi instrument museum, which was a fun little find!

Congratulations! You made it! :-) Thanks so much for following along with my travels - I've got a couple more Italy posts still coming, hopefully in the not-too-distant future. Lots of blogging to catch up on after a crazy last month!