When I started planning my vacation to Tuscany during the summer of 2018, all I knew was I wanted to avoid busy cities and particularly touristy locations. I had dreams of finding a way to live my Under the Tuscan Sun fantasies (minus purchasing a rundown villa with my life savings on a whim!).
It was a rocky road getting to my first stop...literally. I rented a car from the airport and gave a ride to some others going to the same place. After getting lost on some steep, gravel back-roads where the small Fiat got so overheated, we had to unload all the luggage and passengers in order to make it up a hill. From there it was smooth sailing. We laughed it off and made it to a villa in a southern area of Tuscany that the Italians consider the “wild west.” This is where I’d spend the first week of my vacation on a yoga retreat.
The area was exactly what I wanted and needed: remote, raw, quiet, beautiful, and largely uninhabited. Each day would start with morning yoga and meditation and the days would be occupied by visiting nearby towns, lounging by the pool with a book, or napping. In the afternoon the heat would break with dramatic thunderstorms that we’d watch traveling toward us over the landscape. Scattered throughout hills and sweeping fields were tiny medieval villages and farms. One small town nearby had a restaurant with a Michelin fork rating. It served the dreamiest gnocchi I will ever eat in my life. I spoke of said gnocchi as “the most delicious pillow clouds” for the duration of my time there.
From there I traveled further north near the Grosetto area to stay with my friend Katja (@anythingtuscan) and her family in their guest cottage overlooking their olive grove. It felt just as unreal and peaceful as you would imagine. Each day I sat outside under grapevines to read and write with their dog Luna, who became my reliable companion. I spent one day learning how to cook a several course meal with Katja’s dear friend Rafealla: eggplant parmesan, fried sage leaves and zucchini flowers, homemade ricotta spinach nutmeg ravioli, gnocchi with pesto from scratch, and tiramisu. I still have big plans to attempt cooking it all back at home! After I finished with Rafealla I was able to walk down the road to have a private tour and tasting at an organic wine vineyard. Having neighbors like this sounds ideal to me!
The highlight of the trip was just driving through the Tuscan back roads during magic hour with the windows down and music blasting. The freedom of it all coupled with the vistas felt like a beautiful dream and was incredibly therapeutic. I embarked for this trip feeling exhausted with a desire to simply recuperate. I left the trip feeling spacious, centered, and spellbound by a slower-paced land rooted in producing nourishing food and delicious wine. There is something so empowering and rejuvenating about traveling somewhere new and wild to simply rest.
Restaurant with Michelin fork and mouth watering gnocchi: Trattoria 'La Posta' (Via G. Verdi, 14, 58055 Semproniano GR, Italy)
Beach spot: Riserva Naturale Alberese
Yoga retreat: David Morena (http://moryoga.com/)
Driving playlist: On the Road in Italia