When I was about 14 years old my life ambition was to open up my own little ballet school in a small town in Italy.
It was the perfect plan, combining both my love for dance and also for the Italian language and culture.
Obviously life has this habit of not really going to plan. Actually, I’d completely forgotten about this one little dream of mine…until I found myself back driving through the Tuscan countryside in a little fiat rental car at the start of last month.
It was the first time since Christmas that I’d had a holiday and I don’t think I realised how much I needed it until we were actually on the plane. I was nervous at first, leaving London for a whole week of no work- and therefore no pay- #freelancerproblem.
It was definitely worth it.
Here’s a bit of a breakdown of our Tuscan itinerary for the five days that we were there:
Lari is the name of the tiny village 5 minutes walk from our AirBnB. It’s very quaint and picturesque. You can walk the perimeter of the main town in around 20 minutes or less and you definitely get that small town sense of everyone knowing one another! Still it’s friendly and pretty with a couple of coffee bars to choose from, a small convenience store and about three restaurants. The main attraction is the Castle around which the town is built. A short walk up the castle stairs and you’ll be rewarded with stunning 360 views of the Tuscan countryside. Tom and I came here a couple of times to get some training done on the top of the castle grounds. We did collide with a school trip on one occasion, who quickly gathered into a captivated audience when Tom pulled out a few flips and stunts!
Lucca is one of my favourite Tuscan cities. It’s beautiful and has so much history. The old town is completely surrounded by ancient walls that were built before Italy was united. They were used as a defence mechanism to keep out the people of Pisa, its biggest rival state. Inside the walls there are lots of green spaces as well as a whole host of shops, cafes and restaurants. Lucca is home to over 100 churches, and is also the birthplace of Puccini. It’s a lovely place just to wander around aimlessly. It’s also very reasonably priced to rent bikes and cycle the around the city walls. Great views and you can work off the ice cream too!
One of my all time favourite places, we spent my birthday in Florence. I couldn’t have hoped for a better place to celebrate. I’ve been a couple of times before, so we avoided the main tourist hot spots such as the Cathedral and the galleries.
Instead we relaxed inside the botanical gardens and had a wander around the outdoor and covered central markets. We got amazing pizza at a little organic restaurant down one of the side streets. There was also hands down the best gelato of the holiday from the gelateria across the road. I love finding the best places by wandering off the beaten track- far far away from the overpriced generic restaurants in the main squares. Nothing annoys me more than restaurant hosts badgering you to come inside. We did have a wander across the Ponte Vecchio, which always offers stunning views of the River – and had a toast to our birthdays at a little wine bar along the river. Perfecto!
I’m glad we got to have another trip to Europe together before our adventures to the Southern Hemisphere! Especially as Brexit will have taken its toll by the time we get back to the UK. Italy will always be one of my favourite places, even if my little Italian ballet school is now no more than a childhood dream!