Tuscany (+ bambino).
Dennis and I had been to Tuscany a few years ago (pre baby) and had a fabulous time. Mostly filled with fancy hotels, lots of wine and michelin starred restaurants. So I knew that this was going to be a VERY different trip, and sure enough, it was!
I guess one could argue that travelling with a baby is almost like a right of passage for new parents. Many of our family and friends had gone through it before us, and even though their advice was helpful, I think you just have to work it out for yourself on how to take a baby on holiday - especially when you're used to taking off as a pair.
Dennis and I decided on Italy for our first big family trip for several reasons. It was a country we had both been to before, a place where the eating would be good and where there was lots of lovely produce so we could cook our own food, where there were beautiful places to explore during the day, and where we felt confident in the quality of the health care, just in case.
Dennis flew in from work to meet Inès and I in Florence and from there we picked up our rental car and headed into Tuscany!
It's true what they say about Italians loving children. Only 10 minutes after arriving at our Airbnb in Tuscany, the owner was praising Inès's legs as the very epitome of chubby perfection. Not long after we found ourselves surrounded by most of the town's residents all gathered in a mass huddle around Inès oohing, ahhing and cooing: 'Bellissimo!'
We settled into a routine fairly quickly, so really, holiday life was pretty much the same as being at home. Except there were fewer chores and our afternoons consisted of exploring wineries and medieval hilltop towns. After our days' adventure, we'd settle Inès for the night, then relax with a meal and some wine!
We rented an Airbnb, called Il Borghetto, in Castelnuovo dell'Abate - a charming medieval village at the top of a hill overlooking the Tuscan countryside. The town is located just outside the village of Montalcino and right in the heart of Brunello wine country.
The apartment, aptly named La Casetta di Brunello, consisted of 2-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, a terrace and was newly renovated. It was very clean, bright and stylish - think old world charm but with all the modern amenities. The only negative about this place was that there was no real living area to relax in. The apartment was also split over three levels so lots of stairs.
We ended up renting it sight unseen - a huge gamble!!! As we had originally wanted to stay in La Casa di Alice but it was already booked. The host, Stefania, said that she had this new aparmtent that was undergoing renovations and we could be the first to stay in it. I had asked to see some pictures but she had non to send me. So we decided to roll the dice and rent it anyways. I'm usually not one who likes to gamble on accommodation but this place turned out to be great. And Stefania was also very nice, helpful and made our stay enjoyable.
Dinners out were definitely a no fly zone as Inès was usually in the bath by 5:30pm and into bed shortly after that. So instead, we focused on enjoying outdoor lunches.
Although we did manage to squeeze in the odd michelin starred restaurant, it was certainly nothing like the last trip. FYI - fancy restaurants are not as relaxing with a baby in tow, but I would argue that they're still worth going to.
Here are our top three fav lunch spots:
This place is located in a teeny tiny village in the middle of nowhere Tuscany.
The restaurant is very unassuming and doesn't look like much at all from the outside, but the inside is gorgeous! One of the most elegant dining rooms filled with big round dining tables and beautiful furniture. I especially loved the gold framed windows into the immaculate kitchen.
Chef Roberto Russo came out to personally greet us and explain the dishes. We also chatted with him about travelling with kids as he has a little girl and a baby boy on the way.
The menu is high-end with creative and imaginative offerings, fresh vegetables and herbs from their garden. The food was delicious and each bite was absolutely divine!
Definitely worth a stop or detour!
First, the view from the terrace of this restaurant is amazing! Then there's the Brunello heavy wine list (one of my favourite Italian wines). Then comes the food which was superb. The staff were also excellent, attentive and friendly. A great experience to have such a lovely lunch overlooking the Tuscan countryside.
Unlike many of the other restaurants we ate at during our trip, the service here was impeccable! The food was also utterly delicious and they even made a special dish of pureed fruits and veggies for Inès! And I loved the basket of fresh vegetables they brought out for us right when we sat down.
Drivers beware - the property is very secluded and much of the road is unpaved. But definitely worth it! A lovely casually elegant Italian restaurant with a view.