October 16, 2015
Our last evening in Italy Rock and I walked around the grounds of Poggio al Casone together. The sky was like a watercolor painting with splashes of apricot, silver and cerulean blue soon giving way to shades of cobalt and navy. I breathed in scents of rosemary and sweetly fragrant flowers and wished we could stay a little longer.
We really settled in here and came to love the area and all its quirks. I always smiled when we drove by our little town’s “playground,” which consisted of one small plastic slide on a patch of grass about five feet from the road. I especially liked passing the tiny men’s clothing store on the town’s main street to see how many days in a row they would let one of the mannequins go without pants. (Seven and counting.)
I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Italy but as Robbie Nevil once wisely said, “C’est la vie. C’est la vie! That’s just the way it goes.” After we checked out of the agriturismo we had about 5 hours before we needed to turn in the rental car and catch our flight. That gave us just enough time for one more day trip in Tuscany. Jonas’ friend and former roommate Jason told us about a place his family enjoyed called Montecatini Terme. It’s a spa town known for its thermal baths. He mentioned a park with lots of activities for little ones and a funicular that takes you to a charming medieval mountaintop village with good lunch options. Sold.
The boys loved the funicular, a rickety red train with a wooden interior built in 1898. The views from inside were a bit limited so we made sure to ride outside in the semi-enclosed area at the front of the train. We held on tight and up, up, up we went. Jonas observed that Rocky was “white knuckling it” the whole way. I was expecting a very quick ride but the mountain was higher than I’d estimated and it took about 10 minutes to get to the the top. It was sprinkling when we arrived, which encouraged us all to sprint up the street and choose a restaurant quickly.
We had yet another wonderful meal (tuna carpaccio, saffron risotto, polenta with sautéed mushrooms and spaghetti with homemade marinara) in the small village of Montecatini Alto and then lingered in the piazza. The sky had cleared up while we were eating and now we were reveling in the sunshine. Just when we thought this place couldn’t get any better, we found an outdoor cafe that served Pinocchio-shaped ice cream sundaes. Come on!
We returned to the funicular and as we waited outside, we had a nice view of the sun-drenched valley below. I took it all in and thought about how you could spend a lifetime discovering all that Tuscany has to offer. I glanced at my grandpa’s watch. It was time for us to go. Instead of feeling wistful and sad, I felt at peace.
We were walking back to the car and it finally happened. We’d been waiting for this the whole trip: An epic meltdown. Rhône was upset that he couldn’t ride in the stroller. Rocky was already strapped in and ready to go and we needed Rhône to walk two more blocks to get to the car. He started crying, planted his bum on the ground and insisted he was NOT moving.
Jonas and I did what I imagine all loving parents do. While Rhône was face down on the ground we looked at each other and silently started cracking up. I don’t know why it was so funny. It just was. We talked Rhône through it, took a short video to remember this special moment and then I gave him a piggyback ride to the car. Rocky, so aware and wise beyond his year, called out, “Home!” Yes, baby. Time to go home.