Saturday, July 27, 2013

Now we are 6!

Our sweet Elise celebrated her 6th birthday this week! She was a wonderful sport about spreading out her birthday fun since our entire house was packed out on the actual day of her birthday. Our dear friends the Williams were kind enough to take all 3 big kids that day, which was a treat for us and for the kids!  Here are a few shots of our birthday celebrations for Elise...
Birthday morning breakfast!  Elise has been asking and asking for a pair of real tie sneakers for her birthday since Mr. Atkinson taught her how to tie her shoes this year at school.

We love our birthday girl.
Enjoying her new lego set!
Elise requested dinner at Donna Fortunata with 3 of our favorite families.  It was a very special night!
Carlo treated the kids sooo kindly!  He let them each make their own pizza and pick out toppings, too!
My sweet international girl chose tiramisu for her birthday cake!
Elise and her best friend Kaitlyn!
The kids must have been inspired by our recent viewing of "UP" because as soon as we got home they tied balloons onto everything we own to see if they would fly.

Friday, July 5, 2013

'tis the Season!

Oh, the joys of a delicious summer peach!
...and a funny story about this variety of peaches... They are known  as 'pesca tabacchiera' in Sicily or 'tobacco can peaches'.  They are sweet and amazingly juicy this time of year!  I was picking up some fruits and veggies at our local market and mentioned to the owner that I had seen these peaches for sale when we were in Naples, but noticed that they were called 'pesca saturna' or "saturn peaches'...he looked at me and emphatically responded that these were 'Sicilian peaches' and they were called "tabacchiera" - he said that they could call them 'Jupiter peaches' or anything else they wanted to, but they belonged to Sicily and that was all that mattered.  I appreciated his passion for both Sicily AND these peaches! (they're really THAT good!)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tuscany, Day Three: Luco, Montereggiano, and Siena

Josh was anxious to get started with filming for his next song in the children's literature genre, so we offered to spend the morning around the castle in Luco. That would give us the chance to explore and give him the opportunity to capture the beautiful scenery for his music video. The kids and I enjoyed walking in the vineyards and playing in the gardens and Josh jammed in the background!

Our apartment was in the tower!  Lucas STILL thinks it's our new house...I don't think any of us would mind, but it would be a long commute to Duke next year.
Since we were enjoying the quiet morning at "home" - we ended up having lunch in and getting everyone down for rests, too.  After naps we headed towards Siena...but first, a detour to the town of Montereggiano...for some yummy gelato and a walk around it's charming cobbled streets.
Montereggiano is a fortified city once allied with Siena and used as a military outpost during struggles for regional power with Florence.  We climbed up to the top of the walls and walked around the city for a birds' eye view.  Could have stayed all day!
On to Siena!  We ended up with a little picnic dinner in the piazza, so we finished it off with gelato numero due of the day!
Piazza del Campo - one of our favorites in all of Europe.
If you notice the fences and sand "track" around the outside of the piazza it was there for the famous Il Palio horse race that is run each year on July 2nd.  We missed it by a week!
Beautiful Siena at dusk.  We miss you Bryan and Aida!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tuscany, Day Two: San Gimignano and Volterra

I know it's a tourist hotspot on a hilltop in the heart of Tuscany, but the medieval town of San Gimignano continues to be one of my favorites. It's a medieval Manhattan of sorts - though only a handful of it's ancient towers remain.  (There were almost 60 stone towers in the town at one point in it's history!)  The narrow alleyways, stone arches, and sweeping views of farmland and vineyards are charming and welcoming and endearing...even if you're sharing them with a few hundred other tourists!
Truth be told, the thing I like best about San Gimignano is the park and playground just outside the town.  We packed some good old fashioned p,b&j's for the kids, grabbed some Italian staples at the market for Josh and I and enjoyed a happy picnic with stunning views of the surrounding countryside.  It was wonderful!
No day of sightseeing is complete without a gelato...or two!
More towers in Volterra.
Please excuse the flyaways!       
One of the nicest things about all the little hill towns is that they all have lovely little green spaces with playgrounds.  This was the view from the playground in Volterra.
Classic Greek amphitheater on the edge of the city - guess people have been enjoying these views for a long time!