Treated in Tuscany

The view

I am fortunate enough to have family scattered across parts of the globe, many whom I have yet to meet. Our travels provide the perfect opportunity to get acquainted. This is why we found ourselves in a postcard-perfect country home in the Casentino Valley of Tuscany. We were visiting my second cousin Shirley, originally from the Isle of Man, and her husband Carlo. I’m extra fortunate to have family in such breathtakingly beautiful places and to be so well taken care of upon visiting.

Carlo and Shirley

We spent our time strolling through the hillsides, relaxing in front of the wood stove and eating the most indescribably delicious foods. When I asked Carlo if he could teach me how to make his roasted potatoes (seriously the best potatoes I have ever tasted) he declared it impossible because I am not Italian. I will never be able to cook like an Italian for ‘love’ is required. Italians have a very unique sense of humour, or at least Carlo has. “Meghan, shut up and eat!” is one of my favourite quotes of his from our time spent in his company. Italians seem to take food and eating quite seriously. They will never say ‘mmmmmmmmm’ or ‘yummy’ after taking a bite, something Mark and I could not help but do upon every scrumptious bite.

chestnuts open fire, chestnuts closed fire

One of our days was rainy and miserable so we simply hung around the house, played some Scrabble and roasted some chestnuts over an open fire. Have I mentioned how great it was there? Shirley assumed we would be bored because there is relatively little to do at her place compared to some of the places we’ve been and are going to, especially when it’s cold and rainy. We weren’t. Taking breaks like this from our traveling is invaluable. We need to slow things down and rest our weary feet and minds. When we hop on a train every other day and see new city after city it gets exhausting.

Main square in Arezzo

We both wanted to stay at Shirley’s forever, but thought that would be overstaying our welcome. Shirley drove us in to Arezzo, which is the closest train station to her home and where she teaches high school English. Arezzo was a nice surprise. It was a quaint Tuscan city complete with narrow winding roads, medieval houses and beautiful rustic churches. We visited several of these churches and saw some fantastic frescos by the local artist Piero della Francesca. There must be something in Arezzo’s water because it seems like all the great Renaissance artists are from the surrounding valleys, including the greats Michelangelo and Leonardo. From Shirley’s we could see the Arno river, just a tiny trickling brook, where Michelangelo floated the massive hunk of marble that would become David from a quarry upriver. How did he do that? A little known fact Shirley had us ponder. From Arezzo we moved on to Florence.

Thank you so much Shirley and Carlo for being such wonderful hosts to us. We hope to meet again soon.


    Wow, how wonderful! Chestnuts and scrabble on a rainy day in Tuscany sure sounds like a dream come true.

    The central square of Arezzo was used as the filming site for the movie, La Vita √® Bella. Too bad you did not have the time to stop in the old walled city of Anghiari, near by. So much to see ….

    Hi WeWander,
    Sorry I never had the chance to meet you! Shirley said you were in town…Your description and sensations of Casentino are so true — even though I’ve lived here for many years I still love most of it…! plus Shirley’s hospitality is world renowned!!!

    Definitely is a lot to see. We will have to return for another visit!

    haha, yes Linny it was.

    Whoa. Sounds like Shirely and Carlo were great hosts. I definitely hope we can visit them one day soon now too!
    Miss you guys. Sounds like you’re having the best time ever :-) Lovey xoxo

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