Yesterday was Juergen’s 51st birthday. We drove south to the Saturnia Spa. It was a 3 ½ hour drive. On the way we stopped at a hole in the wall sandwich shop on the coast near the port that takes you to Elba. The landscape was amazing. I personally wanted to stop every 5 mins to take photos. But then the trip could have taken weeks. You need to drive through very curvy roads and very small mountain villages to get to the spa. It was in such an out of the way place we were sure no one would be there. Wrong. It was very hard to find parking. This place was wonderful. I thought I would be the only one enjoying the spa. I love warm water. Wrong again. Jessica soaked in the warm water for one and ½ hours. Philip, Nicole and Sarah were so cute rubbing the mud all over each other. Afterwards our skin felt like silk. And I slept better then I have in years. We all slept well. It was great!
When we returned to the Villa we had our family story time. It was Jessica’s day. The kids asked all kinds of questions about Jessica’s autism. They have never really done that before. And then Philip and Sarah wanted to watch all the videos I have made of our family, and past vacations. I have dozens of videos and slide shows stored on my computer. Juergen sat with them looking at pictures for an hour. I feel so blessed!
Today I took Nicole, Sarah and Philip into town to ride a bike and post my blog. Unfortunately it started to rain hard. We went for a walk instead. It was also a holiday (I guess it was Italian Republic day). Most of the stores were closed and so was the internet café. I did find a shop where I could buy local olive oil and noodles. I have a nice collection of food and plants to take home.
Today was long and very interesting. We drove through the Apennine mountains (not sure I spelled that right). Our first stop was Grotta Del Vento, the largest cave in Italy. I stayed with Jessica in the car while the others took the 2 hour tour. It sounded incredible but Jessica would have been freaked out in the dark. I understand it was also pretty hard to climb in this deep hole. I would have had a hard time with it. They took a few pretty cool photo’s.
Our next goal was the Carara marble mine. You have to drive through the mountains to get there. It looked so much like driving in Yosemite park in Northern California. My photo’s don’t do it justice. It was breathtaking. The kids were a bit bored on the long trip. But Juergen and I were in awe. When we finally arrived at Carara it was so cool! This is the same place Michelangelo came to get marble for his statues. We got a tour from an old man who fought with the Americans in WW2. He was the best part of the trip. He was so proud to show us around. We bought some marble from him, and he also gave the kids some marble. Nicole and Thomas both want to try carving marble.
Then we drove along the coast. Most of the Italian coast in this area is private. You need to pay a pretty steep fee (25 € per person per day) to get on the beach. We stopped at a private beach. It was already 6:30 pm. I asked if we could just go on the beach for a half hour for free. They agreed. So the boys tossed stones into the sea.
We tried to reserve tickets to the Renaissance museum in Florence, but couldn’t manage to get through on the phone. We are pretty tired so I am sort of glad we aren’t going to Florence tomorrow. Instead we will try to just ride bikes in Lucca again. We have to pack. It will be a long trip home. So this will be my final post from Italy. It’s been a full and wonderful time. I love it here. I hope we will return someday soon.