Since two years, May has become a special month in my life, for it was May two years ago that we moved to Italy. It is said that when you are enjoying, you forget about time. When drafting this post while reviewing the memories of last year, it seemed like everything just happened yesterday!
Around this time last year, I wrote a “best of the year” post to celebrate my first anniversary of living in Italy. This year when going through pictures from albums in my computer, I thought why not using the photos that I’ve already post on Instagram, for I always share the interesting moments on Instagram using my favorite photos! So here it is, my second “best of the year” post recapturing my favorite moments and stories during my 2nd year as an Italian resident.
🌸 May 2016: Sightseeing Iris Blossom in San Polo
We celebrated our anniversary of living in Italy with a floral occasion: the Iris blossom event organized by Pruneti.
We were invited to visit the Irish blossom by Paolo and Gionni, the two brothers who now are running the award winning olive oil company Pruneti. In San Polo (Chianti), where Pruneti plants olive trees and produces extra virgin olive oil locally, the tradition of Iris cultivation can be traced back even before the olive oil. The first plant of Iris in San Polo was dated back to the 18th century. And in 1842, it became a cultural activity through the whole village, and has lasted until now.
As an easy-going plant, Iris doesn’t require neither big pieces of land, nor too much water. That means narrow and dry land would be good enough. People in San Polo even insert Irish between olive trees to make the best use of the land. And the result is rewarding: the scent is heavily used in perfume production, while the petals are a good material as pigments in cosmetics.
Every year in May, a festival celebrating Iris blossom is held in San Polo. Activities for people of all ages are in actions. It would be a great cultural event in Tuscany to join.
🇫🇷 June 2016: Road trip to Provence, France
It was an unforgettable vacation: hot, dry, flowery, and full of adventures.
It was the first road trip for our son. 8 hours drive from Florence to Provence, and another 8 to come back, plus many other hourly drives during the trip. But he was an angel and behaved so well all the time.
In three days, we covered the famous endless lavender fields in Valensole, as well as the little antique villages in the South France, such as Sault and Gordes.
Detailed route suggestions can be found in my previous post: 2-Day Road Trip in Provence
🌄 July 2016: Visit Casentino
After coming back from Provence, we just wanted to stay and relax at home before heading off to the serious summer holiday in August. So July was quiet.
We spent most of our weekends with nonni in the countryside. Besides that, a quick day trip to the Casentino made our July.
🏖️ August 2016: Summer Holiday in Riccione
I didn’t see this coming, but I have to admit that I enjoyed a lot our summer holiday in Riccione. For those of you who are not familiar with Riccione, it is a city in Emilia-Romagna region at the seaside of the east coast of Italy. Family hotels with lined-up “bagno” one next to the other along the beach. It is a typical place, where traditional Italian families spend their summer vacations decades and decades. It is considered one of those typical Italian summer holiday place, which expats make jokes about from time to time!
Before the trip, I almost gave up the idea of “enjoying myself” there. I was prepared to make it a vacation all about the kid, so as long as he would enjoy the seaside, I would rather sacrifice my needs for him. However it turned out a very relaxing holiday also for me and my husband. Since there is so well designed for families, the baby was easily entertained and found other peers to play. Andrea (our son) was so manageable there, and so we could also have some qualified time to rest.
Here is a short clip of our stay in Riccione. A post of it can be found here.
🍂 September 2016: Farewell Summer Gathering
When you really love and enjoy certain things in life, you should make a ceremony for it. And that’s what we did at the end of September: an afternoon gathering to say goodbye to Summer.
Invited by Maria from EaTravel, who organizes events/ workshops dedicated to “slow living”, we hopped on a train to Rufina and sat down under the sun to create a memorable time of our Summer 2016.
We decorated the table with center pieces, tasted some Florentine snacks out of the recipes from Emiko Davies’ cookbook Florentine, and laughed on some jokes. Taking photos, eat, talk and be merried. Our way to show the cherishment to the good time and good company.
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Appreciating the little things is like practicing meditation, the best way would be cut yourself off from the virtual stuff on internet, and focus on what you really have in front of you: friends, wine, flowers, and laughter. Last week together with other friends from Florence, we hopped on a train, headed to Rufina for a “Farewell to Summer” picnic, organized by @_eatravel. Bringing our favorite flowers, favorite wine and snacks, we came to the same table and prepared the picnic all together. See my post and pics of this slow living event, check my latest post (link is in my bio👆🏻) #slowlive
☕ October 2016: Keep Calm & Parents Are About To Come
I remember October was a rainy month, as well as a busy one for me. Although I didn’t really go anywhere special, I was still, as I remembered, busy and just a bit under pressure, because my parents for the first time after I moved to Italy are coming to visit!!!
We’ve planned this re-union for a long while, but it kept postponing due to different reasons. But finally in October, my parents are committed to come. So as their “local host”, I wanted to do my best to make sure they would feel like home. Technically they were here not for traveling, but for family visiting. So a “homy accommodation” is something that I feel having responsibility in providing. Besides, the fact that they planned to stay for 3 months just freaks me out a bit.
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Yesterday I posted a new article of "3 Things Asian Do That Europeans May Not Understand", and many of you agreed on the "Instant noodles" habit. One tip to cook this junk food a bit less un-healthier is: to boil the noodle in water for 2mins to "wash off" some of the preservative; then put it into the soup with all the flavoring packs; add some salad leaves to make it greener. 🍜 #asianfood
Running errands is the main activities of the month.
🇪🇸 November 2016: Take My Parents to Barcelona
I was happy to spend some qualified time together with my parents. I showed them around Florence, they got to huge and kiss Andrea physically, we went to have a big Sunday lunch at my in-law’s, etc. Those were some good busy and happy weeks.
But the most exciting part was that I took my parents on a trip to Barcelona! That was the first time for me to be a tour leader, and make all the decisions (from choosing flight to booking restaurants) for a whole trip abroad. My parents had a good time taking a break from Renaissance art, and breathed in some modern Mediterranean air.
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Me, one week ago on the famous Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona, absorbing the best eauty of this artistic city. That weekend was a "landmark" in my life: first time taking my parents along for traveling; first time being a tour leader for a senior group; first time leaving my hubby & son home and out alone (except for blog tours), etc. My post of the trip, with travel tips sharing my new favorite travel App @goeuro & other necessary info for trip planning, is up on the blog, click the link (in my bio) to read the full article.
Details of where did we visit and eat can be found in the post: >> https://staialborgo.com/2016/11/22/weekend-in-barcelona-with-parents/ <<
👷 December 2016: Tour The Hidden Tuscany: Massa-Carrara
I was honored to be brought on a trip, organized by The Chamber of Commerce in Massa Carrara, to discover the hidden part of Tuscany, the province of Massa Carrara.
Before the trip, I didn’t see there was a plan for me to give a deep visit to this part of the region. And that’s why I am so happy that I chose to go on this trip. We spent three days there, visiting the town of Massa, the marble quarry, as well as the Lunigiana area with a mind-blowing km0 food experience.
My Marble Quarry Tour is recorded on blog post: >>https://staialborgo.com/2017/01/13/carrara-marble-quarry-tour-homeland-michelangelo-david/ <<
Then followed by another family trip to Prague, 2016 is wrapped nicely and soundly.
🏫 January 2017: Kindergarten Visiting
January was a harsh month, as I remembered that we went through flu and fevers through the month. The weather was definitely not a favorite thing in the first month of the year. However something special happened. For the first time, I, as a Mom, experienced the kindergarten selection for my son.
I was happy about the way the public kindergarten taking the applications. This year on the civic affairs portal, Florentine residence can submit the enrollment of the kids directly online. Positively surprised, I found everything was very organized, and all essential details of our family were already recorded in the system. Within 20 minutes, we successfully submitted the applications. Wow, I was still shocked talking about it even now!
🍝 February 2017: La Grassa Food Tour in Bologna
February was a short month, but a delicious one! I took a day trip to Bologna with a group of ladies, and ate around together in a guided food tour of Curious Appetite.
A big highlight of the tour was to DIY tortellini in the kitchen. And of course that facial-mask size mortadella and all kinds of cured meat in one big plat was also something unforgettable! Check my post “Why food tour in Bologna” for a full review of that culinary adventure.
🎨 March 2017: Visit the Accademia Gallery
March was remembered as a happy period, as for the first time of the year we finally saw the arrival of spring! What made it even better was that I finally visited the Accademia Gallery, and saw for real the famous David. Thanks to Tickets Florence, I was also invited to a city walk following the museum tour, which enriched my knowledge to history of the city that I’m living in.
The old Florentine used to say “Never shall one live out of sight of the Duomo.” How lucky I am to have the privilege to have such scene in my daily life!
🌊 April 2017: A Family Trip to Liguria
In the latter April, we took a family trip to Liguria. It has always been a region that I dream of visiting. The second that the coast line came into my view, I almost jumped out of the car. Rather than the well-known Cinque Terre, we settled in an upper town Camogli. And taking it as our base, we drove around and visited different villages along the coast.
And the adventure continues……
Thanks again to all the old and new friends, who I met in the last year. You were the one, who made the best events happened in my times in Italy. As always, I look forward to have more great memories together with you and Firenze!
To the past time in Florence, as well to the future years to come!