Ciao de Italia!

We are having such a magnificent journey! I feel so incredibly blessed for this experience. So far we’ve been on the road 13 days, and we’re about half way through our adventures but yesterday was the best day yet!!! Right now we’re in Tuscany, at a magical villa called Villa Castignano, in the heart of Tuscany just 5 km outside of Siena.

It took us 2 hours and 9 Italians to find this place in the middle of  nowhere! Everyone else rented GPS’ but we made it happen with Suzan’s French and my Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.  Was truly a treasure hunt, and the pot at the end of the rainbow is nothing less than magical!

Tali, Suzan’s best girlfriend, is getting married tonight. We got here on the 15th and we’ll be chillin here until the 19th. It’s the plushest part of journey for sure! We’re staying in a beautiful, aged brick villa with sweeping landscapes, grape vineyards, hills forever, a huge pool at the top of the hill, rosemary and jasmine everywhere, ancient looking archways through every doorway, and everyone here is good looking, it’s truly eye candy all around.

Our room has 10 windows that open out to the courtyards, on either side, with Mediterranean breezes blowing in every morning.  We wake up with sunlight streaming in the window, embraced in the cacoon of Erol’s passionate, pure love, and after a lot of giggles and pondering of our happiness, we head to the banquet room for breakfast which is typical italian yogurt, cereal, poached eggs, croissants, and coffee.

We’ve been exploring Siena during the days, which is probably the MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY I have ever seen. I would love to come live here for a time!

Little cobble roads lead in every which direction with the aged, burnt siena color everywhere, shades of orange and yellow and peach and turquoise with green or blue shades.

We walked through the old town and explored the Duomo piazza – the oldest, most incredible hand carved stone church.  And, of course, took millions of photos and ate gelato. I broke my refined sugar cleanse here, and have eaten gelato at least 3 times!! People here eat it every day.

Before Siena, we spent a few days on the island of Sardinia, which was SOOO gorgeous!

We took a 6 hour ferry ride there and explored the eastern coast, el Golfo de Orosei, which boasts Italy’s finest beach, Cala Luna.

All the boys of Sardinia were in love with Suzanna and it was her 34th birthday so we got showered with all kind of free gifts! We got a free day boat pass and got dropped off at all these epic beaches and caves, crystal clear turquoise waters, and cove after cove of our own private beaches.

Before Sardinia we were in Cinque Terre – the 5 small villages known for their terraced agriculture comunes, and the stunning cliffside village architecture.

We slept in Monterosso, which had epic beaches, but explored all the other villages by day and night – Levanto and Vernazza. We had our first real Italian meal in Vernazza – fine wine, seafood pizza, grilled fish, and the finest home made pesto gnocchi that wold make you cry. I actually did. The senore’s mama made it right there on the spot, and it was absolutely incredible. Leading up to that meal, for the first week or so, we were eating like street kids on steps of buildings, on the beach, etc. out of markets. To save money, we usually ate yogurt and fruit for breakfast, made salads for lunch with fresh olives, mozzarella bufala, tomatoes, arugula (rocket), olive oil, aubergine, etc. and dinner some sort of sandwiches. But that first real Italian meal in Vernazza rocked our world!

Before Cinque Terre we spent a couple of nights in a bungalow in Elba, another small island off the coast of Tuscany. We took a ferry there from Piombino. It was the true Italian island experience as we were the only tourists there!

Beach exploring, driving through small villages and exploring beaches all day long, getting lost all the time.  To summarize our trip, I’d say we’ve gotten really good at staying at the cheapest possible spots – bungalows or low end hotels, getting lost a lot (leaving Rome heading to Elba we shot out on the wrong side and was an hour in the wrong direction!), eating bomb food, finding the most beautiful non touristy spots, and having an interesting time getting used to the Italian driving character which is to tail gate like a mo fo and drive SO fast in the left lane that it’s just insane. Our car is stick shift so Suzan and Erol have done all the driving. The shoppping here in Siena is OFF THE HOOK and I could spend a lot of money (especially if my sis were here!) but I think instead I’ll enjoy the sunshine. It rained yesterday!!

We’re heading back to Rome on the 24th early, and flying to Amsterdam for 10 days. We’re going to stay with Erol and Suzan’s familia and friends there! Can’t wait!!! Until then we have a few more days at the Villa and then exploring Tuscany and Umbria – San Gimignano, Lucca, and beyond!! What a blessed life!!!!

Amazing song: Kol Gagal’s “Looking for the Dorot”


Ashley, Erol and Suzan*

Delft tower

Chiantigiana near the villa exploring dirt roads!