Under The Tuscan Sun, Part 2

day 4: A cheese Farm in Florence

Halfway through our trip, we bid arrivederci to Lucca and made our way to Villa Pisignano outside of Florence. This house was out of this world beautiful. I would seriously live there for the rest of my life. I choose a bedroom with a giant king-size bed and a view overlooking the rolling hills of the countryside. It was truly a dream. We drove to a nearby town for a tour and lunch at a family-owned cheese farm. We got to sample some amazing cheeses and my favorite was one that they told us was a yummy mistake! We relaxed at the villa for the rest of the day before heading into Florence for dinner. We had some amazing pastas at Ristorante il Latini, a classic old-school Italian restaurant, the perfect welcome to Firenze.

day 5: A Vineyard in Tuscany

Our bodies were starting to wear down, so Chanel set up a morning yoga class at the villa for us with her favorite yoga instructor from Austin who just happened to be in Tuscany at the same time we were! It was such a soothing way to start the morning. We worked on posture, stretching, and breathing. Once we were in a refreshed mindset, we headed to Castello di Gabbiano, a quintessential vineyard in Tuscany. Our tour guide showed us all around the castle, wine cellar, and property before leading us to the most amazing lunch at their on-site restaurant. We enjoyed a wine pairing with each course and ended up having a three hour lunch! Later, we had a cooking class at our villa that was the highlight of the trip for me. Giuseppina taught us how to make garlic and rosemary pork loin, roasted potatoes, handmade pasta, and strawberry panna cotta. Even though I’m not the greatest cook, I really felt like I could take her simple recipes home and try them myself!

day 6: Enjoying Our Villa

We had been so go, go, go for the past couple of days that we all needed a little break. We spent this day lounging around the villa and doing whatever we wanted. I painted in my watercolor book for a while, laid out by the pool, and took a much-needed nap. It was Camille and Adam’s wedding anniversary and they planned to go to dinner in Florence, so the rest of the girls and I were on our own and went out for a girls’ dinner. We found a quaint little restaurant close by and got all dressed up for a nice dinner.

day 7: Exploring Florence

We spent our last day in Italy exploring the city of Florence. We had spent the majority of our trip in the countryside so it was exciting to see the city center. We started with a terrifying bike tour of the city. I’m not the strongest bike rider, so I was especially nervous, but after a while I started to gain some confidence. We had lunch at the cutest garden cafe called Santarosa Bistrot that looked right out of an Anthropologie catalogue. After eating pasta for almost every meal, I was so excited to see a caesar salad on the menu! We all split after lunch to see different parts of the city. Camille and Adam walked around and saw some shops. Kristen and Caroline checked out the leather goods market. And Jenn, Chanel, and I decided to start aperitivo early with some aperol spritzes on the rooftop of Hotel Continentale. Eventually everyone met up with us for a few drinks before we headed to our last Italian dinner at il Santo Bevitore. I got one last scoop of gelato at Gelateria Santa Trinita before we headed home and back to the states.

Under The Tuscan Sun, Part 1

As of this week, our Tuscany travel site is LIVE! We’ve been working on this project for such a long time and it was truly a labor of love. About a month ago, all the girls at work and I traveled halfway across the world to Italy and spent a week exploring, learning, and eating our way through Tuscany. Below are a few of my favorite stories and photos from the trip. Check out tuscany.camillestyles.com to see even more!

xo Carm

Day 1: Arriving In Italy

It took us a full 24 hours to get from Austin to Lucca, and by the time we got there, we were all exhausted. But once we pulled up to a wrought iron gate and saw the gorgeous mustard-yellow Villa Cosimo sitting prettily behind it, our spirits were instantly lifted. Our hosts David and Barbara gave us a tour of the property and the house and then let us get ready for dinner. I chose the cutest room with two twin beds with yellow comforters that had windows looking out over the back gardens. After changing clothes and washing up, we all met in the garden for dinner under the most fragrant jasmine-covered gazebo. It was simply idyllic. Our villa came with a private chef so we enjoyed our first four-course Italian meal in style with prosciutto and melon, caprese salad, pasta with capers, pistachio crusted salmon, and blackberry panna cotta. It was the perfect start to our Italy adventures.

Day 2: Art Day

After a long night’s sleep to get rid of jet lag, we started the day with brunch under the gazebo. Chanel had this romantic idea of spending a day painting outside, and Jenn made our dreams come true by surprising us with these adorable portable watercolor paint sets and a linen covered sketchbook. We spent the morning sitting outside the villa painting and writing, before heading into town for a tour of a marble museum. We visited the Bozzetti Museum in Pietrasanta and learned about the process sculptor’s go through from idea to completion. We were all excited to experience Italian aperitivo so we made our way to a sidewalk-side cafe in a beach town not too far away. We sat outside, drank lots of white wine, and snacked on some interesting appetizers. Once we got home we walked down the street from our villa to a neighborhood restaurant called La Cecca for a big dinner. We ended up staying at the restaurant until midnight laughing, eating, and drinking.

Day 3: A Day On The Sea

We couldn’t travel all the way to Italy without dipping our toes in the Mediterranean Sea. This day was our coastal day and we spent all day on a sailboat riding around La Spezia. We docked at Portovenere to explore and have a glass of wine. This city is said to be the “sixth city” of Cinque Terre — think beautiful scenery without all the tourists. Once back on the boat, we anchored near Palmaria Island and our captain and his skipper made us a seaside lunch. Most of it was inedible to me, but the pesto pasta was delicious! The wind was making us all a little chilly, but I somehow convinced everyone to jump into the water at least once! How often would we ever get a chance like that?! Camille, Adam, Chanel, and I swam over to a rocky, deserted beach and collected bright green seagrass before heading back. We were starved once we got back to our villa and only one thing could quench our hunger — pizza! We found a cute place near our villa called A Bimbotto and devoured slice after slice after slice.