LA With Kids | Part One

Summer ’16 is going down on record as one of the best ever! I can’t believe it’s almost over and September is nearing its end, I’m sincerely sad to see it go! So before we’re completely swallowed up by all things fall, I finally found a moment to share our time in LA with the kids! We spent the last week of August in LA splitting our time between beaches and Disneyland. When I think of Los Angeles “family friendly” isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind, but that being said we managed to find some sweet spots that the four of us truly enjoyed and would absolute visit again. Today, I’m sharing those places with you!

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We made it to LAX from Dallas bright and early and the first thing on all of our minds was FOOD, but on our way to the restaurant we couldn’t resist stopping at the perfectly pink paint wall at Paul Smith for a few pics. I absolutely adored this look entirely inspired by one of my fave fashion bloggers Suburban Faux Pas, it was charmingly Californian and so much fun to wear. Best part? POCKETS.

Dress & Belt: Ann Taylor | Jacket: Kut From The Kloth (I cut about 4 inches off the bottom of this jacket so it would be cropped, as it fit low on the hips when I received it) | Sunglasses: Karen Walker | Wedges: Valentino

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The boys ran around and got all of that energy from being couped up on a plane out, so I let them do their thing and grabbed a few pictures of them too, and as you can see… They were in need of a vacay, ha!

Tees: J. Crew | Shorts: J. Crew | Sandals: Saltwater by Hoy

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It wasn’t long until we were onto Au Fudge for an early lunch!

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Au Fudge is an eatery that caters specifically to the haute tots of Hollywood. It’s owned by none other than the beautiful actress and mama Jessica Biel, and not a single detail was missed. From the gorgeous gift shop to the imaginative play spaces, even the plastic cups that convincingly pass for glass. Nothing in the place is too precious, and you can really let your “I’m eating out with my kids, I hope they don’t break anything” walls down.

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Emerson ate his pizza quickly so he could make his way to the playroom, that we could see from our table. There a certified nanny greeted the kiddos who came in. I left my salad to escort Emerson to play, and she kindly let me know that I was free to head back to my table to enjoy my meal. This my friends… Is pure genius. And we need and Au Fudge in Dallas, yesterday!

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Sawyer hung back with mommy & daddy eating everything in sight, and I can’t say I blame him because the food was perfect. Casual and fresh. Our server asked if we’d like dessert and unfortunatly the one item Sawyer truly wanted, they didn’t have…a milkshake. This wasn’t a problem for Au Fudge, they whipped up an off the menu vanilla milk shake specifically for Sawyer bean, the sweetest send off for certain! I can’t recommend this place enough and can’t wait to go back!

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After lunch we made one last stop before the drive down to Disneyland. A quick pop into Bottega Louie for a few macaroons to munch on at the hotel later that evening.

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We let the boys pick the flavors, and the mint/chocolate and birthday cake did not disappoint! Major yum! Next stop, the happiest place on earth… Disneyland!

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Venice, A Love Letter

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Oh Venice, where do I begin? Derek drove us overnight from Positano to Venice, and we arrived just in time for breakfast. There is (of course) no driving in Venice, so we parked our car and walked our luggage to our Hotel. After an overnight drive we were pretty exhausted as you can imagine, and our hotel didn’t have check in until 2pm. We figured we’d inquire with the front desk anyways and made our way to Hotel Moresco soaking in the sights of Venice in the morning before the tourists were awake along the way.

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When we walked into Hotel Moresco it immediately felt like home away from home. It’s a beautiful boutique hotel and delightfully intimate with it’s petite garden and library bar. The hotel’s staff couldn’t have been more accommodating. They took our bags and set us up with a private breakfast in the library. Bacon, pastry, cheese, fruit and of course all the cappuccino we could drink. Before we knew it an hour had passed, and they opened the library doors to take us to our sweet little suite.

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The room was adorable and the most comfortable bed we had layed on in all of Italy. The walk in closet was my particular favorite, so unusual for a smaller hotel but much appreciated. We took long showers, had tea and took a long (much deserved) nap. I woke up from our snooze before Derek, so I decided I would take my time and actually blow out my hair for the first time of our vacation… I suppose I had been giving my hair a vacation as well? Anyways, I put on a plush hotel robe and slippers then blew out my hair. I took my time and did my make up. I grabbed some champagne from the mini bar because I figured, why not? Our last day in Italy! It was so peaceful and quiet and such a luxury because with two little boys at home it’s very rare I get more than 15 minutes to dress myself! When Derek woke up, we left Hotel Moresco in search of caffeine!

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Strolling through the canals and listening to the gondoliers, so cheesy and adorable all at the same time!

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We found the espresso holy grail, Caffé Florian. We lingered and paid their outrageous sitting fee and listened to the classical musicians that we knew our little Emerson would obsess over. This historic spot is worth the hype.

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After a bit more sight seeing, snacking and shopping we popped over to Hotel Bauer where we enjoyed drinks and dinner. This is a must if your in Venice, as the view is perfection and the gondoliers are frequently passing by singing. Magical. A perfect ending to what felt like our second honeymoon. We sat and reflected on our time in Italy, we laughed over busting our asses on slippery rocks in Positano, we day dreamed about more places we’d like to see in this gorgeous country and we made plans to bring the boys back when they are old enough to handle the grueling international flight. I won’t ever forget these moments. Ever.

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We left the Bauer at sundown, enjoyed the cocktail hour back at Hotel Moresco and managed to FaceTime with the littles before turning in for the night. The next morning it was back to Milan, to New York, and finally to Houston to squeeze our sweet sons in person! Even after this incredible vacation, nothing could top reuniting with them. We were so lucky to have the boy’s amazing grandparents providing so much fun, love and care for them while we were away. I’m sure it’s something they will look forward to every summer! Right Nana & Chief?! Ha! Until next time…  Arrivederci Italy!

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Picture Perfect Positano

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If there were ever a cure for the Monday blues, it’s got to be a post on Positano! We arrived on Sunday late afternoon and as we always do, we checked in and freshened up and left to explore. Positano is the most picturesque little beach village. It’s charming, romantic and truly feels like a living post card. We popped into a little bar for some chilled limoncello and then made our way through the shops.

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We picked up some beautiful linen outfits for the boys and a handsome made to measure shirt for Derek. Then we sat down for a beer and called Le Sirenuse for a dinner reservation at their champagne bar.  We lucked into a reservation in half an hour, so we dropped off our purchases and made our way over.

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The view from Le Sirenuse is lovely, and the food was wonderful and my date wasn’t too shabby either.

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All around it was a lovely start to our time in Positano. We stayed at the champagne bar sipping rosé way past our bedtime!

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If you were wondering what Positano looks like at 2am… It’s still beautiful!

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We slept in, grabbed breakfast and put our swimmies on. We had to check out of our hotel, but were able to leave our car in the valet and our luggage stored. With our belonging taken care of we began our care free day in paradise. We went to the cutest little local market and stocked up on beers and Bellini to take on or afternoon boat ride, then hit the beach!

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We swam, we collected sea glass for the boys, we napped… Hard! Ha! Before we knew it, it was time for our boat departure!

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We rented a small boat for just the two of us. We decided on the four hour Amalfi Coast excursion and away we went!

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We took breaks from our cruise to swim in several caves and eventually made our way to Amalfi. We got off the boat in Amalfi to grab some gelato and walk off our drinks! It was just gorgeous.

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We walked over to Hotel Luna Convento, a convent turned hotel to take in the views. It is truly unreal how beautiful the Amalfi coast is!

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We said ciao to Amalfi and got back on the boat where our next stop was a small cove with a waterfall. Derek had been talking about finding a good spot to climb a small cliff and jump, and he decided this was the place… I wasn’t so sure.

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We climbed up, grabbed hands and before I could change my mind… We leaped! I hesitated for a quick second, and when I did I managed to scrape my forearm on some coral. Luckily due to copious Bellini I was feeling no pain! I swam back to the boat thinking Derek was just behind me, only to realize that our jump was just a practice run for him, and that he was making his way up even higher for one more dive. Sometimes I can’t decide if he is 31 or 13, but one thing is certain… He’s fearless!

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We popped into a few more caves after our swim, but stayed on the boat to relax and take in the sights.

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When we made it back to shore, we realized our 4 hour boat ride ended up being 5 hours. Our captain was so great and so fun, he didn’t mention time at all and we were able to just relax and enjoy the ride. After our goodbyes we went back to our hotel to get changed and have dinner. The restaurant at Villa Franca was the best meal we had in Positano. Five stars all the way, a dinner I will never forget.

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When we couldn’t decide on dessert, we opted for them all… Including a gold topped dark chocolate soufflé, otherwise known as the best thing I have EVER eaten.

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We concluded our dinner with espresso, as we were heading out for our most lengthy drive of our entire Italian road trip. Positano to Venice, 7 hours, overnight. Crazy? Absolutely. But we had a choice to make, a night of sleep or a day and night in Venice? We figured we’ll only be this young once and we can always catch up on sleep, it was worth it to us to not miss Venice so away we went… Buona notte Positano!

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The Rings in Rome | Part Two

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Our second morning in Rome started bright and early as we had filled our day’s schedule to the brim with guided tours provided by The Roman Guy. First was the Vatican and St. Peters Basilica tour. We jumped in the car at 6:30am and went out for cappuccino and chocolate croissant prior to meeting our guide just outside the Vatican. Our guide explained that we would be heading straight through to the Sistine chapel prior to it’s official opening. This meant that our small group of 10 people would be the only ones in the room. She went on to say that there were no pictures or talking permitted, and that we would have the better part of 20 minutes to view this incredible masterpiece. She rattled off facts and items of note, things to look for and observe. Then, we were transported from Rome into the Vatican City with just a few footsteps. The Sistine Chapel is breathtaking, and honestly I’m not even sad that you cannot take pictures as they would never truly do it justice. It brought tears to both of our eyes, it’s truly heavy thinking about the blood, sweat and tears that one single artist put into it. Miraculous to say the least.

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We ventured from room to room, gallery to gallery all through the Vatican for hours. I could post a hundred more photos. But it’s impossible to capture the magnitude of this place.

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After a brief break in the courtyard we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica.
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At the conclusion of the tour, I was just completely overwhelmed emotionally. You can truly feel God’s presence around you here, it’s almost tangible. I am Christian, but not Catholic so I didn’t expect to have such an intense response to visiting the Vatican, but the beauty and importance of this sacred place weighed heavily on me. It was the same for Derek as well, I could feel the tension in his arms wrapped around me, and his heart beating a little quicker when he brought me in for a hug. It was a true honor to visit the Vatican and I cannot wait to return with my boys one day. I hope they have the same passionate response to it as their father and I did.

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As we left St. Peter’s we got an excellent view of the Swiss guards, and couldn’t resist taking their picture for the little guys. We had a brief break before our next guided tour, so we got changed into some cooler and less formal attire, then made our way to lunch at Caffé Propaganda just a short walk from the Colloseum.

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I had the carbonara and it was exactly what I needed to gear up for the insane amount of stairs I was in for next, and a little espresso helped get the blood flowing too!

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Our Colloseum tour was amazing. We walked the underground of the Colloseum, we stood on the gladiators stage, we climbed to the top (my legs caught on FIRE, ha!) but it was worth it!

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We walked from the Colloseum to the Roman Forum and the ruins are truly a sight to behold. It’s mind boggling just how well preserved the architecture is considering how significantly old it is, Derek was completely geeking out. I love him so much when he goes all history nerd on me! 😉

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Our tour guide was seriously so wonderful, if you want to see the best of Rome and get the most information and exclusive access (we never waited in a single line anywhere!) do not hesitate to book with The Roman Guy!

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That evening we decided we couldn’t walk another step (we clocked 30,000 steps that day!!), so we drove to dinner. Our meal at Angelina in Rome was the best we had during our visit. I didn’t bring my camera, we had the best wine, ate WAY too much and we just relaxed after our long, but forever memorable day. The following morning we had breakfast at this gorgeous ivy covered cafe and did a little souvenir  shopping for yours truly. Ferragamo heels from their pre-fall collection that Derek had shipped home for me for my 8th anniversary gift to open when we celebrate in the fall. I couldn’t say no to such a lovely gift that he let me pick myself and now October can’t come soon enough! After shopping it was time to say Ciao Roma, and I was sincerely sad to leave. But the ocean was calling… On to paradise in Positano!

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The Rings In Rome | Part One

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We checked in, freshened up and immediately set out to see the sights and grab a bite… The Rings were in Rome!

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On the drive to Rome we made a short list of three places we wanted to see on our first evening, since we arrived in the late afternoon. The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon are all a short walk from one another, so they made the cut! Along our path we passed by the colosseum and the Roman forum, but since we’d be touring them in depth the next day, we just took a few pictures as we strolled by. We stopped at the colosseum to face time with the kids, so I took a seat (and my heels off for a second, ha!) Derek was going to attempt a “holding up the colosseum” shot for the boys, but we didn’t have enough service to get a hold of them, so we texted instead. In the meanwhile, it was pretty hilarious watching Derek stand there waiting for the call to go through and holding my heels, haha! We were totally “those tourists” for a minute! 😉

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The Spanish Steps were being restored, so they were partially closed. A little snag in our plans, but nothing a little gelato couldn’t patch up. We ventured on toward the Trevi!

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If you recall in my last posts, we were beginning to think we were the only tourists in Italy. Every where we went felt so exclusive and we absolutely loved it. Well, we found the crowds… They are ALL in Rome! Ha! Amongst hundreds of visitors we found a little corner of the Trevi fountain to have a seat, finish our gelato and take a few pictures.
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We threw in a coin for ourselves and the boys, ensuring our return to Rome one day of course!

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Our final stop was the Pantheon, which was a mammoth of a building in an old palazzo. On our walk home we popped in to a traditional no-name pizzeria for dinner, and brought a bottle of wine back to our room to rest up for our big tour day in Rome the following day! Ciao!

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Hot Springs of Tuscany

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I left off my last post at the conclusion of our wine tasting at Castiglione Del Bosco just outside of Montalcino, from there we were south bound to one of Tuscany’s hidden gems. The hot springs in Bagni San Fillipo are one of the few left in the area that isn’t on resort property and doesn’t get too crowded. We almost skipped the springs altogether, expecting our time in Italy to be brutally warm. We completely lucked into a very mild week thanks to the rain that morning and it was cool enough to make taking a dip in the springs sound beyond relaxing! When we came upon the springs we were greeted by an impressively massive white calcium formation… And a very strong scent (sulfur perhaps?). If you can push past it and head down stream, the smell lessens and the air becomes much more pleasant. Which is exactly what we did!

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We opted to leave our camera in the car, I didn’t want to risk a slip and tumble into the water so you’ll have to forgive my limited iPhone snaps! This was the ideal location to completely unplug, so I didn’t miss carrying it around anyways.

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We found a secluded little spot after a little hike in the completely wrong shoes, ha! I almost slipped several times, which validated my choice in leaving the camera behind entirely. The springs are relatively easy to get to albeit slippery, and once we found “our spot” we took a few pics, tucked our belongings behind a rock and sunk ourselves down into the steamy hot pools. It. Was. Divine.

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We were pleasantly surprised to find the area so secluded, and came to the conclusion that it being a weekday and just before lunch time, we must have timed it just right to avoid a crowd. We felt incredibly lucky to be alone in the quiet of nature in this heavenly place. I felt like we were on our honeymoon, I will never forget how magical it was. We could have stayed for hours, but we were absolutely famished and it was time to venture on!

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Nothing could punctuate a steamy dip better than ice cold Italian beers and prosciutto sandwiches. I love this picture of us, my eye make up is all but washed away, hair is damp, but we’re completely smitten and happy. It’s perfect to me. ❤️  Toodle loo Tuscany! Next up… Roma!

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Tuscany for Two

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From Florence we made our way to Montalcino where we checked into Castel Brunello and were greeted by the beautiful and welcoming owner, Erna. She was lovely and recommended two restaurants just uphill from the Brunello estate.

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The sun was beginning to set on the hills, so we had our luggage put away and went straight to dinner. I captured this watercolor sunset on our way to Trattoria Il Leccio, and sincerely the picture doesn’t do it justice. Simply breathtaking.

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We sat outside the trattoria with only one other couple and a small group having a dinner party (all locals) and were the only tourists to be seen. It was a wonderful experience being able to fully immerse ourselves in Montalcino life. We decided on the chef’s menu, 4 courses and two bottles of incredible Brunello wine later we realized we had been there for two hours and were closing the place down. Italians do not rush their meals, they encourage taking your time and living la dolce vita, so I guess you could say we truly embraced that philosophy and the staff was so incredible and warm, it felt like saying goodbye to friends when we left and the whole town square looked like a movie set. Exactly how I envisioned small town Italy, perfectly dreamy.

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Friday morning we woke up to rain showers at Castel Brunello, so we slowly made our way down to breakfast. The property was stunning, even on a drizzly grey morning.

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We planned our day at breakfast. First a stop back in town for some extra bottles of Brunello Di Montalcino wine (Starting at $50 a bottle these make a lovely gift to bring home to the states for a variety of price ranges. We picked up some for our parents who so graciously watched our babies while we were away, and we can’t recommend it enough especially if you enjoy a dark peppery red). We packed our bags and loaded the car. I mentioned in my Florence post that I’d share more details on our first class ride, a brand new (we were the first to drive it!) 2016 Fiat 124 Spider. If you’re going to do a romantic road trip in Italy… This is how to do it!

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So back to the trattoria and wine shop we went, and while we were there I decided to snap a few pictures of the dreamy little village where we had eaten the evening prior.

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It was just as, if not more picturesque by day. I could live here in a heartbeat.

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Of course mid photo-sesh the rain decided to return, so we tucked into a stairway as it passed. Remember when I said earlier that I felt like I was on a movie set?  Well getting caught in a mid morning shower with this handsome man in Montalcino took it to total rom-com status and pretty much took my breath away!

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The sprinkles quickly subsided and we got on the road to Rosewood’s Castiglione Del Bosco for a wine tasting. Castiglione Del Bosco is in one word, stunning. We had some time before our tasting which allowed us to tour the enchanting estate.

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The pool and view of Tuscany was awe-inspiring. What a magnificent place!

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Derek was braver than I and climbed up a ruined bell tower…

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While I personally opted for the stairs, ha! After our leisurely tasting we departed for our next destination just a quick drive away.

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More about the perfect retreat on a cool afternoon in my next post on the thermal hot springs of Bagni San Filippo… Ciao Montalcino!

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