We’ve just returned from spring break in Italy, which is a very German thing to do, considering how many of our children’s classmates and their families did the same. We spent the first week in Tuscany with M’s immediate family (meaning his 15 closest relatives: father, siblings, spouses, nieces and nephews), and then spent a week along the coast and in Milan on our own.
The views we enjoyed during the course of our stay were breathtaking and varied—scenes of pastoral hills terraced with olive gardens surrounding our rented villa, snow-capped mountains in the distance, foothills of the Alps; a wooden table under an arbor covered with blooming wisteria and humming with bees; small ancient towns that may not have changed a bit in centuries; uncelebrated 1,000-year-old churches; medieval walls encircling small, quaint towns; a still-standing Roman aqueduct spanning the countryside; and even the remains of an Etruscan amphitheater. And of course we took in a few obligatory yet stunning sights: the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Duomo in the heart of Florence.
A car is required to see most of these places (with the exception of Florence). We simply could not have reached our villa without one, and considering there were twenty of us, it took not just one but four cars to bring us all to the top of the far-flung hillside where we stayed.
Our adventure began and ended with cars; for me they became a dominant theme of the week, and I say this as a non-designated driver. The other themes that could be explored here include food (from the expected pasta, pizza, and gelato to the unexpected brains), family (the rich mix of adult personalities and bright-eyed children), missing Mom (this was the first family trip without her) or sickness (there were a variety of coughs, fevers, flus, and pains coursing through the family that kept us all on our toes), but for the moment I’ll set those aside and tell you about the mundane theme of cars. Continue reading