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Italian staycation

In the months leading up to her Thanksgiving trip with her parents, S felt a bit like Goldilocks, with each potential destination initially appearing enticing only to be discarded upon further research as not quite right.

Greece in November is too rainy, Prague and Budapest too cold, and the Maldives too expensive and difficult to reach. Then S read a blog post on Tuscany, which promised cool but crisp, sunny fall weather, rolling hills with vineyards and olive groves, and gelato. S’s mom found an agriturismoBarbialla Nuova – a large organic farm and forested estate that offered self-catering cottages, which seemed perfect for the kids. They decided to look no further and booked a ten-day stay.

Packing for Tuscany, S envisioned spending the mornings going for walks along the estate’s trails; Munchkin chasing the dozens of farm cats and visiting the cows, chickens, and pigs; going on a truffle hunt with the dogs; taking a cooking class; and maybe even finding some time to read on the couch. Of course, with two kids in tow, S quickly scaled back her expectations. She never did get around to going truffle hunting or taking a cooking class. Even so, Tuscany proved to be the perfect fall getaway destination.

The farmhouse had a kitchen, and the local grocery store offered an excellent selection of fresh food. The Italian culture of eating late made it a bit challenging to eat out when both kids were thoroughly exhausted and cranky, but S’s mom is a great cook, and S appreciated savoring her home-cooked cuisine. The last night, S and her family drove to a little-known, pop-up restaurant in a retired couple’s home, enjoying a lovely meal in front of a fire while the couple played with the kids. Though she didn’t press any olive oil herself, S also got a chance to see some presses that dated back to Da Vinci’s time and taste some of the olive oil the proprietor had pressed himself.

As the family made its way back to the farmhouse with the kids dozing in the backseat, S knew she’d miss Tuscany and remember the good food, beautiful scenery, and kindhearted people rather than the meltdowns and long bedtime routines that are part and parcel of every day with little ones regardless of what country one visits.

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