italia: firenze

Bear with me... this will be a long post because we spent the bulk of our italian days in firenze, and boy was it amazing.

As you saw in the arrival photo on the previous post, Laura and I were super stoked to see each other, and the boys, I guess they were excited, too. :)  We got to experience their daily bus ride to their cute little apartment, and she fixed us some delicious pasta (her famous pancetta & panna pasta) when we arrived.  We caught up for hours and just enjoyed being back with our buddies.  Oh, and we played this monopoly card game that is lots of fun, and I'm not sure if Dudley and I ever won the whole 5 days we were there?

On Wednesday of the trip, Laura planned for us to do a bike tour with Tuscany Bike Tours.  She had seen an ad about it and thought it looked like fun, so she reserved four spots on their Wednesday tour.  Best. Decision. She. Ever. Made!!!  It was by far the best day we had in Italy, and it was even more fun that neither of them had done it either.  So you go into the city to meet at their office, then they drive you out to a castle in Poppiano -- Castello di Poppiano.  They make wine and olive oil, so right when you arrive, you are taken on a tour of the winery, and they also show you how the olive oil is made.  It is the most beautiful, green olive oil you've ever seen.  So you get to tour all around the castle, and go to the top and see the most beautiful view of tuscany you'll ever experience.

After the tour is over, you of course get to sample their amazing wine and olive oil.  We definitely came home with both.  You then load up on bikes (every bike has a name), and bike 13 miles through tuscany stopping for lunch at a cute little ristorante.  There are stops along the way to take some photos, and there was this RIDICULOUS hill that you can opt out of doing.  T was the smart one and opted out in the beginning, but Laura, Ryan and I had to at least give it a shot.  Laura and I backed out after oh 100 yards of it, and Ryan did the WHOLE thing.  He's a beast.  There was no room in the van to ride up the hill, so at least we walked it, right?

We ended back at the castle, and then rode back into the city on the van.  The four of us asked to be dropped off at the Piazzale Michelangelo to show Dudley the best view of the city.  We snapped the typical photos, and Laura and I explored the Iris garden, which was beautiful!

It was time to make our way back into the city for our dinner at Sostanza.  Best. Chicken. I've. Ever. Had.   Period.  It was a jam packed first day, but the rest of the time we'd get to leisurely follow them around and explore.

The rest of our days in Firenze were spent enjoying the following things:
San Lorenzo Market shopping
Zaza's for dinner
Cooking School
Auto-stitching everything
Artisan man
Santo Spirito
Duomo -- Dudley and Ryan climbed to the top of the bell tower
Pizza Man
Bus rides
More gelato
Seeing Dudley's hair twin
.. and more things I'm sure. :)

Now you can enjoy our days in Firenze by photos... Starting with our Tuscany Bike Tour.

 courtyard of the castle


 view from the top

 clint eastwood & james bond

 minnie mouse & batman

 that's castello di poppiano

 besties in elmos

 such a beautiful scene (the whole day looked like this)

 cute little lunch spot

 the leaders - loved dudley and his hair.  they are naming one of their vespas after him.

 bikes - hence the names above

here's a very short clip Ryan got as we biked down the hill at the very end:

 the end.

 perfect day.

 iris garden was beautiful, and she didn't think I was serious when I said, "smile!"

Is that a mirror behind us?  No, it's dudley's italian hair twin.  he walked on the bus and we all looked at him, and then looked at dudley, and he said, "that guy has hair like mine!" hahahahah. we laughed the rest of the bus ride.


 this is the kind of thing the artisan man makes

santo spirito


 that's the view of florence from fiesole -- loved it there!


 helping out at their american cooking school for their italian students

laura and I went to see this band and had fun! yes, that's ace of base they're playing... :)
 dudley climbed up 400 something stairs to see this view...

 it tasted as good as it looks, i promise.

 crossword puzzles on ryan's gadget

several attempts to get this shot.... best trip ever, tdud!

 nightly monopoly game and tdud's new style

we got to attend their church Sunday morning, and I'm so glad.  the sermon was wonderful and was actually in english translated into italian!  I loved getting to meet some of their church family.

We went back to Rome to fly out the next day, and enjoyed just the two of us wandering through Roman streets at night finding a yummy restaurant and gelato.  No such luck on the gelato, but just enjoyed walking around aimlessly on our last night.

It truly was a trip of a lifetime, and I'm so glad we got to enjoy some time off together in a beautiful country.  Oh, and an added bonus of seeing some of our best friends in their interim home.  Here so ends the story of our italian adventures.  Thanks for hanging in through the end (for those who did)!



summa time ...

June is here and it's already hot hot hot!  We enjoyed a nice kick-off to the summer for our annual Memorial Day weekend with the Lotts.  Pool-time was thoroughly enjoyed in their awesome pool, and we might have even done some photo shoots?  T and I love this tradition because we know for sure we will see them every year (and hope it's not the only time)!  Love you two!
I spy 2 cutie dogs in this one... and maybe even the gib twice?

They both loved the auto-stitch and we might have done this for hours....

Margie and I also picked some blueberries on Saturday morning, which was a blast.  We came back with lots of good berry loot.  4.5 lbs to be exact!

Gibson and Biscotti continued to love each other and played and followed each other around all weekend...

Margie called us once we were home and said Biscotti kept going to our room looking for us/Gibson.  Come visit us soon, Scotti!

Aaron and T did some night swimming, and we critiqued their strokes from the side.  T actually had some good form, and we asked him where that came from... his response was, "I do watch Michael Phelps."

We love their pool so much and talked about how it'd be so nice to have.... instead, I think I'll go buy myself an inflatable kids pool to sit in this year.  Yep, you betta believe it.

Gib also got some good practice for riding in the car... I think he's coming around to being more ok with it....  He looks cute (and ready to get out of the car).

And, because I had a few people say how they would be sad when May was over and they had a different desktop, I decided to be completely crazy (joking) and change the colors of May for June desktop.  Enjoy!

June 2011 1600 x 1200
June 2011 1024 x 768
June 2011 1680 x 1050