Friday, June 1, 2018


Tour of Italy ~ Part One
"Cradle of the Renaissance"

For Part Two go here and part three go here.

Tales of the Traveling Totes
Welcome to another adventure of The Tales of the Traveling Totes. If you follow my blog, you will remember this is where my fellow TTT friends and I share our latest travels, projects and our most current events.

Miss Courtney holding decorations for Memorial Day

Connor wishing everyone a happy Memorial Day 

Spring has been busy here at the
 The French Hutch. It has been a time for visiting with family away, long family weekends at home, lunching with friends and travels. 
  May involved preparing for and 
then traveling to Italy with friends from Jim's retirement group. We have been to Italy several times and to some of the sites that were planned for this trip. But, there were places we missed on previous trips that were included in this trip that we didn't want to miss. 
Sharing only a few days for this post, I'll share more of the trip later. So many photos!

One of the reasons this trip appealed to me was the three night stay at a Tuscan Villa. It was all I imagined! The villa was about an hours drive from Florence. Our room, with it's old wood beamed ceilings was so charming. The villa, perched high on a hill surrounded by olive trees was magical and where we enjoyed Tuscan dinners paired with local wines. We enjoyed a country Tuscan dinner at the walled hill town just a short walk away. Have you ever had Pappa Pomodoro (Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup)? I always come home with a dish I found that I love, this is that dish! 

 Looking from the villa to the walled hill town


 The Medici Villa

 Our cozy room. It reminded me of the room where we stayed at Mont Saint-Michel, without the Normandy cafe curtains

Miss Molly looking from the restaurant in the hill town back to our villa

Clock Tower 

 Full American breakfast, pastries and croissants, Italian coffee bar, dine in or outside, it was perfection!


Florence is a must see! We have been here twice and did all the must see museums. If you plan to go, purchase your tickets online before you go to avoid the long lines. We enjoyed our favorite places and I did some window shopping. We enjoyed a long lunch at a restaurant in the Piazza Della Signoria. The view was amazing. 

Restaurant where we had lunch and enjoyed a glass of wine

Gothic Church of Santa Croce (1294)

to the left of the church is Michelangelo's Tomb. Michelangelo never completed the Pietà he planned for his own tomb. This monument was designed by Vasari in 1570. It was stunning! To the right of the church is Danti's tomb

Piazza del Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Del Fiore and the Baptistery 

The Campanile (Bell Tower)

the Duomo
holds up to twenty thousand people

Piazza del Saignoria

The heart of Florentine politics since the 14th century. Citizens gathered here when called to a parlamento (a public meeting) by the Palazzo's great bell

The brass doors of the Bapistry 
Lorenzo Ghiberti's celebrated doors, commissioned in 1401 to mark Florence's deliverance from the plague


David by Michelangelo at the Piazza del Saignoria
is an exact copy of the original that stands in 
Galleria dell Accademia.  The original was moved inside to protect it from the weather and pollution

Taking a break
We have found it's so much easier to take a break away from the crowd and long lines of public restrooms (you need coins) by going into small restaurants and ordering a drink and resting the tired feet. Well worth the few euros for a cold drink (ask for ice or you'll get a coke and a glass), then use their restrooms. Easy peasy.

We were lucky on this day to see so many festivals and parades. The colors, uniforms and flags were fabulous to see!

The bridges over the Arno

The Arno

Ponte Vecchio Bridge

Built in 1345, the oldest bridge in Florence. It's spaces were used for blacksmiths, butchers and tanners using the river for a dump. The workshops were rebuilt and rented to goldsmiths and to this day continues to sell gold, silver and antique jewelry in it's shops. 
On our first trip here Jim gifted me with a silver charm bracelet. When we travel I always look for a charm to add to the bracelet. It's full now!

Ponte Vecchio Bridge (the back of the shops)

Pretty cars always catch my eye!


After a ride through the Tuscan hill country, a dinner and evening at the villa was planned. After a much needed rest and breakfast the next morning we are headed to the medieval walled town of Siena. Narrow streets, cobblestones and alleys surround and lead to the fan shaped Piazza del Campo 

Front gates into medieval walled town 

Love the street lamps

It was really hot. Limoncello was icy cold!

I kept noticing advertisements in windows for villas for sale. Remember the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun?" Ummm! Jim does tend to keep a close eye on me at times!

Leaving Siena and driving through the Tuscan countryside to winery for a wine tasting

This is the back of the house

Through gates from back to the front of the house which faces olive trees and grape vines which the road winds through

Front of house

Behind the house is the wine cellar where we toured and sat for a tasting. The wine was flowing freely, so was the local cheese. It was a meal! I didn't need anything else to eat but of course there was the last dinner planned for the villa.

Miss Molly said she had plenty of room for wine to carry home

To say this was a beautiful place wouldn't do it justice. Incredibly beautiful is better!

Now for the Giveaway!

 Katie at Preppy Empty Nester is hosting the giveaway for a chance to win a MacKenzie-Childs Flower Market Globe Vase. For a chance to win just leave a comment on her blog post.  

Other Traveling Tote bloggers would love for you to visit
Come along and travel with:
Debbie with Miss Aurora @ Mountain Breaths
Emily with Miss Courtney Childs@ The French Hutch
Jackie with Miss Madi K @ Purple Chocolat Home
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Katie with Miss Daisy @ Preppy Empty Nester
Lia with Miss Scarlett @ Cici's Corner
Linda P with Miss Lola @ Life and Linda
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ Pandora's Box
Ricki Jill with Countess de Monet @ The Sketchy Reader
Rita with Miss Luna C @ Panoply (you are here!)

Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul

Please join us for our next adventure and giveaway September 1, 2018. See you in September

This was the first three nights of our amazing trip. I hope you enjoyed touring some of the Tuscan countryside with me. I'll be sharing more of my trip so check back in a few days. I didn't buy a lot of souvenirs, a few things I'll show you next time. I did all my shopping for ceramics on my previous trips. 

If you are still here thank you. It was a 
long post!
I appreciated your visit and hope you will leave a comment, it's the only way I know you stopped in.


  1. You girls and your traveling totes are making me rather envious this morning. Thanks for sharing all the pictures of your trip. I love traveling via my armchair, no waiting on planes, missed flights or other travel aggravations.

  2. Oh Emily...just fabulous. I read this post on my phone and can't wait til I get home to travel along on my computer! What a trip of a lifetime!! The photos are so beautiful!!

  3. Emily, what a fabulous trip! Miss Molly was the lucky one to get to join you on this journey. She looks perfect for the Italian countryside. I’ve only been to Italy once, and your photos have brought back wonderful memories of some of my favorite spots. You have also inspired me to think of a return visit to some new places. Thanks for taking us along. It is always fun to “travel” with you, my friend!

  4. Oh, my goodness, what beautiful pictures of what had to be a fabulous trip. I can see where Miss Molly was just right for all your comings and goings on this trip. Happy weekend!

  5. Fantastic photos of Tuscany, they brought back wonderful memories of our trips there. Can't wait to read your continuing posts.

  6. What a fabulous trip! I swanee, I was sitting in the exact chair you were when you were drinking that coke! So many good memories of our trip you brought back, and also added new sites I need to go back to see for myself. Glad you had a good time and are home safe and sound!

  7. Emily... I must confess that I scrolled your post 3 times. The pictures are so gorgeous!! I can't wait to see the rest of your trip. We visited Tuscany only for a day on our last cruise and I told the Mister that I would love to go back and spend more time there. We had the best lunch at an old farmhouse there. Thanks for taking me along (3 times) and I look forward to seeing more pics. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!!

  8. So incredibly fabulous, Emily! Thank you so much for this photo journal, the photos are so terrific. I look oh, so forward to seeing more! Miss Molly was one very lucky tote! I would love to visit Italy someday.
    Oh, and Connor's gloves are terrific!

  9. Wow, a feast for the senses! I forgot how much I love Tuscany! We got to stay in a villa there too but it was only partly finished, just like the book Under The Tuscan Sun. Miss Molly looked fabulous wherever she went and of course you did too! Every bite is fabulous in Italy isn't it, and every view is photo worthy! Can't wait to see the rest.
    We are planning a trip to Rome in February and you will have to give me the info on the villa.

  10. Wow! Amazing photo captures! Very beautiful trip. HPS! Thanks for sharing. HAve a wonderful weekend.

  11. Oh my goodness! How fabulous for you and Miss Molly to have such a wonderful adventure! Truly a trip of a lifetime!

    Your villa looked so beautiful, and the food looks and sounds amazing Emily!

    So glad you had a wonderful time :).

  12. Emily, what a grand trip. I want to go! Paul and I have talked about going to Tuscany. Seeing your fabulous photos make us really thinking about planning a trip. Miss Molly is adorable along with yourself. So glad there was room for wine. I am wowed by all of the gorgeous photos. So fun you are sharing this fabulous trip. Paul says hello.

  13. Oh Emily, What a fabulous trip! I can see how much fun it was. Such beautiful scenery and wonderful history. Not to mention the great food and wine. How nice to have festivals and parades to add to the merriment in Florence. You are doing so well to post after your trip. I am sorry to be late but I am keeping grands and it has been hectic. Not my normal schedule.
    Your pictures were so good. I want to scroll back slowly and really take it in.

  14. What incredible and magnificent sights you have shared Emily! I know your trip was amazing, and thank you for sharing! You did so much in just 3 days, and it all sounds perfectly wonderful! I bet the wine tastes even better in that setting too, what a dreamy place! I love the festival photos and those colorful street lights! I can see why you came home exhausted, I would have never been able to keep up!

  15. Emily! What gorgeous photos you have here!! Renting a villa in Italy is on my bucket list so when we do that, I will contact you for advice:) Sounds like you are enjoying your summer so far! xo

  16. Oh my goodness, Emily, what a fantastic trip to Italy!! I was oohing and ahhing my way through your fabulous photos, and felt like I was there with you enjoying all the beauty, food, and wine. As a matter of fact, I just recently watched Under the Tuscan Sun, and enjoyed it very much. I loved your Miss Molly, as she seemed like the perfect tote for your adventures in Italy.

  17. Wow, I loved seeing your lovely photos of your trip to Italy! So happy you had nice weather. I love Florence. It's my favorite city in Italy!!!

    I can't wait to hear even more about it soon. :D

    BTW you look so cute in your photos. I can tell you were having a blast!

    Ricki Jill

  18. Wish I could have hid in Miss Courtney and made the trip with you and the group. Love, love your pics. What a trip! I'm going back and study each of your pics a bit longer.

  19. You and Miss Molly are looking so happy and beautiful in Italy! Love the street lamps Emily! Please let me know if you end up buying that villa, I will never tell Jim :-) I can get Miss Aurora packed and we can be on our way. What a trip Emily, and thanks for taking up along. Love the picture of Connor wishing everyone a happy Memorial Day. Please give our regards to Jim. xo

  20. Oh Emily, Tuscany has been on my bucket list for such a long while -- I am in awe. Such glorious photos! The night shots, the lemon tree (I'd love that!), all those beautiful fields and vineyards... biggest sigh. What a fabulous trip and you looked divine in every shot!

    Thanks for weighing in on my post about where you live! I loved reading the comments. Back from the lake and trying desperately to catch up!

  21. Hi! I've been reading your blog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead
    and give you a shout out from Lubbock Texas!

    Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  22. Oh, how I enjoyed our Italian trip, Emily, I hope we go back soon.

  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. Bella Italia! I loved all your photos, Emily! The villa looked divine.
    We've seen authntic Tuscan Flag throwers in Colorado, of all places, at a annual Italian Festival. We visited Italy last summer for a month and visited my husband's hometown in the south in Calabria for the town's saint's feast day and then flew up north to Genoa, Verona, Padua Bologna and Lake Maggiore. I finished blogging about it all recently.




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