Wednesday, September 5, 2012

When in Rome...

Villa  il Castellaccio - Tuscany, Italy
     A few years ago my sister asked me if I had thought about my 40th birthday - what would I want to do? I gave it half a second and told her "I want to rent a villa in Tuscany and see Italy!"  2 years ago this week that is exactly what we did - 9 of us took planes, trains and automobiles and met in Rome for a 10 day adventure. 
     As I started researching I found a website, Gira! Italy Villas.  If anyone needs help, contact them. Its a couple in Denver and they helped us out beyond words! They arranged the villa, helped me hire a chef for my birthday dinner and assisted us in renting our cars in Florence. 
    We flew into Rome, gathered our luggage and jumped on a high speed train to Florence (serving Prosecco on a train after you've traveled all night is spectacular) - once in Florence we gathered our rental cars and let the adventure begin. 
     The villa was better than we could have expected - Tuscany you welcomed us with bottles of wine and the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen!  I'll add captions throughout this post but I really want to let the pics speak for themselves! 
     In 10 days we saw much of Tuscany, drove to Portofino and spent a weekend in Rome! So much to see and I can guarantee Italy, I will be back! Enjoy my 40th birthday holiday!! 
Backyard of villa with pool - we spent many nights drinking wine and chatting about that day and plans for the next

Chef Jacopo Fendi - I hired him to make my birthday dinner
Naked Gnocchi (Spinach & Ricotta) with Butter & Sage; Bread & Vegetable Salad; Handmade Noodles with Mushroom Sauce; Roast Pork; Baked Vegetables with Oregano & Tiramisu and Apple Cake for dessert - YUM!
Jenn (college friend), myself, Katie (high school friend), Becky (friend from work)

Chef making 'Naked Gnocci' - He spent 5 hours creating, teaching and giving us cooking tips
My birthday dinner! Family, High School, College & Work friends
Thank goodness it was a working vineyard and it was on the honor system - we did take a pic of the wine bottles at the end of the week (didn't think it was smart to share that one)
Look what we do while in Florence - after a day of sightseeing, who doesn't need to stop for  a beer?

Musical in Greve de Chianti - wonderful town that was hosting their Annual Wine Festival with American Musical Favorites - Shrek, Mary Poppins & Grease
Pizza, need I say more, DELICIOUS! I may have had it every day! 
Jenn and I enjoying Champagne in Portofino. Portofino will go down as one of my favorite cities.

Wendy, Darin and I in Florence - the Duomo is in the background
3rd largest cathedral in the world
I should tell you all a little secret - Darin is my brother in law - amazing guy and we're lucky to have him in our family! He is not only patient to have me tagging along many times but he drove Wendy and I to the Outlet Malls and shopping while on vacation. 

Who would have known the Vatican served a slice of pizza and a box of wine?  If you are in Rome, no matter what your beliefs are - you must visit The Vatican. St Peters Square, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City and The Basilica

Locks of Love in Florence - a lover places their lock on the fence or rail and throws the key over the bridge to 'seal' their love

Let me introduce you to Portofino! The only word to describe this quaint town, SPECTACULAR!!
Katie, Jenn, Kristin and Wendy at Trevi Fountain in Rome - we all threw a coin over our shoulder and made a wish - I think mine came true!
When in Rome! The Colosseum
We took a double decker bus around Rome to make sure and see every site! Best way to see a city when you only have a specific amount of time there. 
Wine tasting station at a store in Greve - you bought a card and simply walked around sampling wine. Stick the card in the slot and taste away. 
My favorite coffee - Illy! Loved having it wherever we went. The coffee, the pastries, the cafes - it took us awhile but once we all slowed down and enjoyed the European culture we loved every second of the their slower pace.
Wes and Darin diving near Portofino
"Christ of the Abyss" was placed under water August 29, 1954 - it was set 17 meters below the surface to protect the fisherman (and Wes, Mike and Darin)

I hope you enjoyed a taste of our Italian Holiday - it's hard to not to share every photo but these were a few to give you a 'taste' of our journey!  It was a fantastic trip - not only to share a milestone with some of my closest friends but to create memories each of us will have for a lifetime! Earlier this Summer most of us took a trip to France - I will be sharing that in a post to come. I'm still learning a lot about blogging - sorry the pics are out of order.
Thank you Jim and Susan at Gira! Italy Villas for all your help!! xo


  1. nice blog day 2! Fun times, Kog, fun times!

  2. Makes me happy and sad at the same time. Happy because it was so much fun and sad because I'm not there RIGHT NOW!

  3. Thanks for taking us along on your birthday trip, Kog. Positano is one of my favorite places, too. That's where I bought your Fendi bags... long before they were in our stores. I have a jewel thief novel that takes place in Positano... light, cute story. I'll send you a copy.

  4. Whoops! I said Positano and I meant Portofino. However, Positano on the Amalfi Coast, is a place to add to your bucket list. Have a great day and think Notting Hill!