Our kids miss our backyard and our dog, Molly. We have stayed in a number of beautiful apartments, but only two with a yard and none with a dog. They have resorted to petting a lot of random dogs and playing soccer with a lot of random kids. However, in a little town in Tuscany named Carmignano, we were able to stay in a little place with a big backyard. The kids immediately jumped out of the car ready to play.

The sweet owner found out about our dog and asked if she could bring hers by for the kids. To our delight, he ended up being a Golden Retriever. Good thing Goldens like attention, because he received it in abundance.

We settled into our house while Paul found a market to buy groceries. We ate a meal on the patio and enjoyed the quiet surroundings. The area is filled with rolling hills lined with vineyards, olive orchards, and villages of chipped stucco and red tiled roofs. It is beautiful.

There is a quality in the way the Italians do things. From their pastas and pastries to their cars and houses. There was a house being constructed next door to us. It looked like it could stand for at least a few hundred years. It is completely constructed with bricks and metal beams.

Here are some more pics of the place we stayed.

And of the kids playing…

The next day we decided to go swimming at a local public pool. Italian law says that you must wear a swim cap. I’m pretty sure the body hair on all of the Italian men negated whatever the swim caps were protecting, but at least our heads didn’t get burned 😜.

I loved observing all of the Italian families. The parents and grandparents all played with their kids. The women comfortably walked around in bikinis in whatever body God gave them. Old men let their speedos sag. Sundrenched women sunbathed some more. Couples fought with some serious hand gestures. Loud Italian pop music played in the background. It was great.

That night I made dinner for the kids, and then Paul and I drove a few minutes away to a tasting room. He took us down into his cellar and served us my favorite meal we’ve had on the trip. He first showed us a collection of local wines that his grandfather had collected during WWII.

His family has owned this home, vineyard, and olive orchard for 11 generations… 310 years! I began to feel a history and pride in a craftsmanship that I have never experienced.

The meal started with different cheeses topped with ingredients such as blackberry jam and toasted almond, fig syrup and walnut, honey and pine nuts… all paired with their own rose wine.

Next, he took us to another room filled with hanging hams, bottles of olive oils, old scales, and a delicious spread of prosciutto, mortadella, bacons, tomatoes, melon, and toasted bread covered in generous amount of olive oil. All of this was paired with their award winning red wine. Amazing!

We could not stop smiling as he told us about his family and more of their history.

In the last room, we tasted three types of Italian cookies paired with a sweet wine that takes 9 years to age. He told us about their young local priest who comes to each home in the village once a year to bless each family. In return, the families give him different gifts… theirs being this wine. The priest loved it so much, he came back to buy 5 bottles more. I don’t blame him. It was that good.

This man, Paulo, reminded me of the importance of slowing down to enjoy a good meal with family and friends. He taught me the joy and pride we can take in creating and serving our best to celebrate the people we love. Everything was perfect. We left his home and walked out into the setting Tuscan sun and warm wind and just stood for awhile letting it all sink in…

Sometimes it is still hard to grasp that we are here in Europe as a family.. that we are safe and well…. And mostly, that God is so good in giving us these memories and experiences… from swim caps to sweet wines. It is all we could hope for.

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