John, Mark, Pat, and Jeanne celebrate their parents’ 80th birthdays
Earlier this year Mark’s parents both turned 80 so to celebrate we rented a house in Tuscany and got all the kids, spouses, and grandkids together. It was honestly a wonderful experience. With the families spread out from California to Virginia to wherever we happen to be we don’t all get together very often. It’s great fun to watch the grandkids grow up and renew their friendships. And on top of all that the villa a bit outside the little town of Gavarrano was fabulous, big enough for all of us, lots of spaces to hang out alone or with others, a pool for playing in. All that and two women, Anna & Rosa, who cooked and cleaned. It would be a challenge to think of a single thing not to have loved about the week.
And rather than trying to describe it all, we’ll just let the pictures tell the story.
Meals were a major event during the week. We were a few miles out of town so we had dinner every night at the villa, with Rosa cooking most of them. The food was great and I was crazy about this semi-outdoor dining area in a passageway between the two buildings that made up the old farmhouse. Big enough for all 17 of us, with cool breezes blowing through, it was just about perfect.
And since we were celebrating birthdays, here’s Mark’s mother blowing out the candles
Our villa was a mile-and-a-half up this dirt road at the top of a hill, which meant it was incredibly private and quiet up there. And beautiful, with what seemed sometimes as all of Tuscany laid out in front of us
We did a few day trips around Tuscany, the first to Siena, our favorite spot in Tuscany
Then there was Pisa with the cathedral in the foreground and that crazy leaning thing in back
One day was a trip to the beach at Castiglione della Pescaia, a nice beach area with what looked like a beautiful town behind it
Jeanne is always the one taking the pictures but is never in the pictures. Here she is with her kids Jamal & Leigh
A little excursion was a hike up to some castle ruins just a little way from our house. In retrospect the ruins weren’t interesting enough to justify the climb (and the unsafe conditions up there) but we did at least get a good picture of Nico.
The excursions were fun but the best part was all the time hanging out with each other. Here’s Mark with a few of his nieces & nephews
Me and Ava
Ava, Alma, & Jasmine
Jasmine, Ava, and Leigh
Jasmine & Leigh
Jeanne & Mumpy
Love this picture of Pat & Jenny!
And just Jenny
Just Mark, looking very serious
And peering over his espresso
Me & Mark with Jamal & Leigh
Lydia, Jamal, Leigh, & Molly
Alma & John
And John, our purveyor of great wines
Early in the trip John and Alma drove up to Massa Marattimo, an impossibly cute hill town with a great wine store. After that he went back pretty much every day – this time with Jamal – to pick out wines for the evening meal.
Mark & Leigh
Jeanne wanted to read Irving Stone’s classic fictional biography of Michelangelo “The Agony & The Ecstasy” but had trouble finding it in print. Here in Tuscany, though, you can still find it on the bookshelves.
And finally, the food was great, as you would expect in Tuscany. And having your own cook and cleaning staff for most of the meals wasn’t all bad….