Amir described it best about ten minutes into driving our rental car. “The name of the game here is just point and go.” The cars are tiny and swift, darting in and out. Lanes seem to be a suggestion not the law.
Shortly after escaping the city we found ourselves in the rolling Tuscan countryside featured in all those college dorm room posters. Diane Lane would be proud of me for tackling this trip.
We ascended a bridge stretching across a winding river far, far below. The GPS informed us this was the River Tiber, which sent a wave of emotion across me. Last time we touched the Tiber as a family was 2018, on our last trip to Rome. We’d lost an unexpected but very much wanted pregnancy 10 days prior. At the time we were a family of three. We threw light pink roses into the River Tiber as a way to acknowledge the loss. Today, as we crossed that same river in a car as a family of five, in a compact SUV stuffed to the top like manicotti, I felt relief, peace, amusement and surprise at just how much your life can change in 5 years.
Every trip we take we like to book an “Extreme Rental.” In Arizona, it was a JEEP for off-roading, in Denmark a Christiana bicycle, yesterday a family bike. Today we added a JEEP Renegade to the mix – Amir at the wheel as usual, me looking up the significance of historic ruins (pro tip: Spot something of interest, find its name on Google Maps then look it up on good old Wikipedia). Amir’s a big history buff, so this is the least I can do since he always takes the hard job of driving.
Our AirBnB is about two hours outside of Rome, in the Lazio region. A different listing initially caught my eye, but then I noticed the other had no bathtub (dealbreaker when traveling with small ones). Podere Palazzo offered a huge bathtub and was slightly cheaper – an easy decision.
The villa has a small English-style garden, a pond with koi fish surrounded by rosemary blooming with purple flowers. There’s a swing that #1BigSister is sure to monopolize, and two hammocks for Mama and Dada, There’s an outdoor dining table with a fireplace and seating area, plus an infinity pool (which we were told would be closed but looks pretty ready to enjoy).
I’m not sure words can do any service to the beauty of this villa, so I’ll just say that we finished the evening with a meal cooked here in our kitchen by Valeria, the sister of the owner. Our first course was fresh tomato bruschetta with a potato and egg torte. Next we had handmade spaghetti (a kid favorite), followed by Chicken Cacciatore, but not like the version I know… this one required cooking the chicken in white wine until nearly all the wine reduced, then adding balsamic, fresh rosemary and a touch of olive oil. That’s all then reduced down to a sticky, delicious broth. Man how I wish I could capture the aromas for you to experience.
There’s a lot more I could write about today, but unfortunately getting the kids to bed is still a nightly battle. And it’s exceptional torture as all three won’t sleep. Good thing I’m pretty sure we landed in paradise today. I think I’ll survive.