We started our yearly trek to Italy once more in the city of Udine. It is very convenient to spend the night there, before venturing further south, since five hours of car travel are plenty for two young children.
We had a fantastic lunch at Osteria di Villafredda in the tiny hamlet of Loneriacco. It is near a castle and offers great food and a view that immediately relaxes the eye and the mind. A drink on the Piazza in downtown Udine later left me completely tipsy and happy (they know how to make their Aperol Spritz!).
Our hotel is a little outside of Udine, in Tricesimo. The view from our balcony never fails to get us into vacation mode. Life as usual gets left behind and we slide into the Italian way of life, which is slower, focused on sensual pleasures and infinitely more fun.
My two little soldiers adore Italy, if it were up to them, they would happily spend their lives eating pasta and running wild. Italians are so much more accommodating with kids, it doesn’t matter when they don’t sit quietly all the time, they joke with them, they bring them extra food and the boys relish the attention and revel in their status of being “belli biondi” (beautiful blonds).
The next day we went on to Florence. I didn’t plan out a whole itinerary of cultural exposure, since I would have only frustrated myself, we’ll keep the heavy museum tour for another time. Instead we wanted to explore the city on foot wherever the road took us, so to say. I wanted to boys to enjoy themselves, not complain about stuff all the time.
It worked out rather well that way, although many of you will probably be horrified that we did not get to the Uffizi or the Palazzo Vecchio. We did extensively walk the Giardini Boboli, saw the Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and Santa Maria Novella.
Our hotel was conveniently located near the Porta Romana in a quiet tree-lined street (Via Niccolo Macchiavelli) and looked fabulous. An old villa slightly gone to seed, but still exuding old-world glamour. It had a garden that might be best described as enchanted, with green labyrinths, hidden nooks and crannies, old statues and fountains, in short a children’s paradise.
In Florence I steered my troops in the direction I wanted them to, of course, which was to the local Hermès boutique and to several profumerias. By now my children think it is completely normal and the done thing to visit perfume shops when abroad (or at home for that 😉 )
The first interesting store was the Olfattorio, Bar a Parfum. I asked the SA whether I was allowed to make a few photos with my phone, but she didn’t allow it and wanted me to ask her boss (who was not there). I complied of course, but I honestly don’t quite see the damage some exposure on a blog could do to a store… (enlighten me if you can!)
Despite the no photo rule, I had come with a purpose and was not to be deterred. I wanted a summery perfume that didn’t require thinking and Diptyque Geranium Odorata was just it. It sounds like I’m damning it with faint praise, but I am not, I’m really happy with the L’Eau line of Diptyque and currently own three of them (Neroli, Lavande and now Geranium, reviews are hopefully in my and your near future). To make up for the photo embargo, the SA showered me with samples and I left as a very happy Perfumista.
The next stop was the perfumery of Santa Maria Novella, a ringing name in the world of perfume, this old monastery still sells potions, creams and perfumes based on formulas from the 17th century (or so the PR lore says).
It was hot, the boys were tired (all three of them) and time was short, so I didn’t dally for too long, since Niki fell asleep on the stairs I quickly purchased my Pasta di Mandorle (the best handcream ever!!!) and smelled a few perfumes, among the standouts for me were Zagara, an orange blossom cologne and Tobacco Toscano, a sweet tobacco vanilla scent. I didn’t care so much for the famed Melograno, but maybe I’m doing it a disservice by not actually trying it on skin. The line comprises over 40 perfumes, so I’m looking forward to finding a few more surprises next time…
A nap and some drinks later we moved on and eventually spent another two days leisurely strolling the city, having excellent food three times a day (as you should!!!) and enjoyed ourselves.
After almost a week on the road we went to our beloved seaside hotel on the Adriatic coast, the Hotel Maracaibo in Jesolo Pineta. This was the place the boys spent their summer for the past five years, and I am bit nostalgic, because it was the last time this summer. The boys are big enough now for us to venture further and show them a bit more of the world.
That said, we enjoyed our last vacation there like never before. It was such a relaxing and quietly peaceful time, I find myself wishing I was still there. (Which is a first as vacations with the boys tended to be more exhausting than anything else, but age has made them wiser by now 😉 )
After a week of lounging by the pool, eating our body weight in fresh, delicious Italian fare and evenings of long talks on the veranda we made our way home to Vienna.
My fragrant souvenirs of this lovely summer are the two Diptyques, Eau de Lavande (brought back for me from the US by the ever generous Dr O who was in Oregon right before the Italy adventure began) and Geranium Odorata from Florence, and one more perfume I discovered and had to immediately buy, because it was love at first sniff – and continues to enchant me – Acqua di Parma Rose Nobile. More on that later…
Thanks for making it this far. If you are still reading you are in for a chance to win some of the newest addition to the Acqua di Parma Nobile line, Rosa Nobile (a 5ml sample drawn from my bottle) that is to be released widely in September.
Please leave a comment on this post about your ideal vacation destination to enter the giveaway. I’ll let random.org draw a winner in one week’s time.
Wonderful vacation that you all had! The pictures are beautiful as always. My ideal vacation getaway – one which I have not taken yet – is northern Norway in the summer. I dream about the midnight sun. Please don’t enter me in the draw.
I would love that too, Scandinavia is fascinating.
so happy you had such a great vacation
my ideal destination is and always will be Paris
I totally understand that choice! 🙂
Good morning! I really enjoyed your vacation memories. Italy is a glorious country, a mixture of culture and leisure: my idea of a perfect vacation. We have visited Italy a few times now and I never grow tired of it:). That being said, I would love to visit Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka). Although I don’t know if I would find much perfume there :). Unfortunately remote destinaties are a nono because of health issues. We will have to visit Italy again:)
Oops, destinations, ofcourse.
Thanks, Marjo, glad you enjoyed it. Italy is such a great country, a perfect mix of leisure and culture.
Your vacation sounds wonderful. I’m jealous! I’ve never been to Italy and would love to see it some day.
My ideal vacation destination would be one where my DH actually relaxes. No internet to check his email. A place where he doesn’t pack something into every minute of the day. Even when we go to Hawaii, we always have to be exploring a volcano, hiking a canyon, snorkeling, kayaking, running, sailing, gliding, etc.
That sounds exciting and exhausting! I hope one day you and your husband can enjoy doing not much of anything in Italy.
I still think a tropical island with white sandy beaches would be perfect vacation spot for me.
Once I try that (I do hope I get to experience that one day), I’ll know for sure. 🙂
You really did have an amazing time with your boys. 🙂
Of course you have to make sure! Try that island! 😉
I think you managed so much in Florence, especially with 3 boys in tow. And all perfumeries too, you trained them well 😀 what a wonderful trip you must have had.
Thanks for sharing your holiday memories with us, it was almost like being there.
Thank you for reading, Asali! Yes, they had some “perfumery training”. 😉
Your vacation sounds wonderful! My dream vacation is a couple of relaxing weeks in Tuscany (or any other place in Italy, really). Lots of good food and wine, and warm weather.
That does sound like a dream vacation to me too, Marte!
I loved ever word. I adore Italy and would go ever year if I could too. It was lovely to see the Dumo again and I agree with Asali, you packed a lot in.
How great that you got to look around Santa Maria Novello and they actually let you take some pics, ha ha.
I was just thinking how the Italians would love your blond boys and then I read about the “belli biondi”.
The gardens made me think of Mito, beauftiul.
I have to say, Dr O looks very handsome in his Italian get-up – I’m with Pauli!
The gardens very much reminded me of Mito too!
They did not blink an eye at SMN when I took pictures. That’s how it should be.
I think Dr O was looking fabulous with his hat, he is not so sure though… 🙂
It sounds like you had a fantastic time. Beautiful pictures and beautiful surroundings. Your boys are getting bigger…and as for your third child…yes, I could love that as well. Mexico is my favorite destination these days and we are heading back there in a couple months for two weeks on the beach. I can’t wait!
Mexico must be wonderful! Have a great time, Steve!
Wow, some of the locals look stunning!
Santa Maria Novella too *jealous*. A friend recently brought some Nostalgia back for me from overseas and I love it. Did you get to try it?
No, sorry, I didn’t see Nostalgia, the display was a bit overwhelming.
SMN is stunning indeed!
Dream destinations are many near and far… But if I got to go right now I would choose a tour of Portugal! Thanks for the draw 🙂
You are welcome, Maria!
And I must add again.. I got totally immersed in your Italian far niente. I love Italy as well!
That is lovely to hear.
Oh dear – is it possible to have more than one dream vacation destination? I would like to return to the lovely country house in Umbria, in sight of wonderful Assisi, where we spent some days – grounds planted with lavender and rosemary, vegetables grown on the premises, an old stone house with mod cons. I would also like to show my husband Turkey, starting in Istanbul and driving down the coast to Bodrum, then taking a boat around the south coast. It sounds like you had the perfect balance of family, relaxation, perfume, and food!
That house sounds so beautiful, empliau!
I was in Bodrum when I was twenty, gorgeous coast!!!
Thank you for the photos of Florence, my favourite holiday destination. It has a mixture of relaxation, food, culture and shopping and I love it!
Rosa Nobile…Italian perfume, it sounds interesting.
I agree, Florence has a bit of everything.
Your vacation looks amazing, but my ultimate vacation must include Venice, my all time favorite!
Just seeing your photos gives me a mini “mind getaway”!! Your three boys are all so handsome!
Thanks for sharing with all of us!
Thank you for reading, Darilyn, glad you enjoyed it.
Sounds absolutely delightful! I stayed in a rundown old villa in Florence too, and wish it were driving distance away. I loved Italy, Malta and Turkey and would happily return, but any European country would be ideal, as would Morocco, and an ancient Persian tour of Iran.
I have a friend who comes from Malta, her photos from home are always stunning.
Birgit, your photos and vacation post are sublime. I would love to go back to Italy and explore the whole of it (and especially want to go to Tuscany). I love it when bloggers post about their travels because even arm-chair traveling thrills me. 🙂
Thank you, Suz! Tuscany is especially charming, every vista is amazing and I find the landscape so soothing and good for the soul.
I think you just described my dream vacation! Wow!
I love traveling anywhere where you can get a great mix of art, culture, amazing food, and relaxation…
That is great! I agree, a mix of everything is the best.
I’ve been to Italy only once (Rome, Florence and Venice) but it is the place I keep wanting to go back to- so I guess it is my dream vacation spot..I don’t know why but perfume pit spots always end up being underwhelming for me (I think I put too much pressure to enjoy myself and fail).
I want to hear more about the food you ate in Florence..:) Where all did you eat? One of my favorite meals in Florence was at this tiny place near Brancacci Chapel called Al Tranvai..Actually we had several yummy meals there but the food at Al Tranvai felt very homey and tasty.
The meals that stood out the most were in La Grotta Guelpha in a side street near the Duomo and Felicita between Pitti and Ponte Vecchio right beside the Santa Felicita church.
Ah, just thinking about that Filetto di Manzo con Fungi Porcini makes my mouth water… 🙂
So far I’ve been to Italy only through your Travels but I enjoyed those and plan to go there one day.
I’m glad your vacation was a great one in all respects and will wait to read about the new horizons in your family travels.
(Any chance you have addresses for those shops? I’ll add the link to the shopping page anyway – and will send updates soon – but it might be useful to have actual address in the end of the post. But no pressure!)
I will add the addresses as soon as I can, good thinking Undina!
Sounds to me like the ideal vacation : Italian parfums and food – one has to love them both !
For me there is another 3,5 weeks to go until vacation, and I cannot wait – I’m getting very exhausted and rather irritable… New England, we’re coming !
Not too long anymore and you’ll enjoy NYC and my beloved New England! It’ll be great!
Hugely enjoyed your account of what sounds like a perfect holiday. Well, sight of the rectangular toilet in the hotel I stayed in in Udine (just after our first meeting in Vienna) might just have made the trip complete…seriously, though, it sounded idyllic, especially the ‘secret garden’ of your hotel in Florence. Love sculptures, mazes etc – especially as a kid but also now.
I am getting into Diptyque more and more – I only own two bottles, but they may not be my last – so am not surprised at your recent acquisitions.
Oh, no need to enter me in the draw, but I always come back to Greek islands as my default favourite holiday destination.
I was on the look out for one of your square toilets, but sadly none was to be found. 😦
I’m glad you are a Diptyque fan too, I am eager to explore it more.
I love that your “troops” are so well trained, following you on the perfume excursions on all the trip! I actually also very much like Geranium Odorata. It reminds me of a honey eucalyptus cough drop in the best possible way, and I find it wonderfully comforting yet pretty (which is a difficult balance to strike sometimes in the summer!).
My current ideal vacation destination would be somewhere sunny and by the ocean, so perhaps the Caribbean somewhere 🙂
Comforting and pretty is right.
Caribbean… sigh. 🙂
I love to travel but don’t get the opportunity very often. Thanks for writing about your trip. I almost felt like I was there. Italy is one country I would love to visit. France, in particular, is another place. Ireland would also top my list. Hopefully someday I’ll get to all three, but until then I really enjoy reading travel adventures like yours 🙂
Thank you, Kandice, I’m glad you enjoyed reading this post.
I hope all your travel dreams come true one day!
I’m glad you all had a great vacation! Florence is wonderful, and the gelato…ah, the gelato. I hope you ate tons of it!
My ideal next vacation would either be to Portugal (where I’ve been wanting to go for ages) or to Japan (again) as I want to introduce my daughter to Japan.
Ah, I want to visit Japan too, it must be amazing (and I’d love to meet Neil, The Black Narcissus again!)
The kids did their best with the gelato! 😉
My ideal vacation destination would be Florence; for now, I’ll have to settle for visiting it vicariously through your delightful post. Paris and London would be nice as well.
You also reminded me that I need to poke around my local department store to see if they carry any Diptyque fragrances, as I’ve never sniffed any of them.
Have fun exploring Diptyque!
Hopefully you get to see Florence soon!
Thanks so much for sharing your vacation and excellent photos, I’ve been looking forward to it! Right now my husband and I are far north in the US, the top of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on Lake Superior. We have never been and as it’s a long drive we only have the long holiday weekend, and sadly it’s pouring down rain, but there are shipwreck museums and excellent pasties so we’re having a lovely time anyway 🙂
Enjoy your time on Lake Superior, ringthing. I hope the weather improves. I’ve been on Lakes Michigan and Huron and I loved the gorgeous landscape.
Glad you like the post!
I’ve heard you can see the Northern Lights in that area sometimes. Fingers crossed that the rain stops.
Wow! I hope you see them!
Hey there Birgit,
Great vacation travelogue and photo essay. I love Italy and you have given me a couple of new to me spots that I think Jin might like. As 2015 is having a travel moratorium we keep saying that we will go EVERYWHERE in 2016. Here is another to add to our list.
How I love your Dr Os get up. What a freaking spunk.
Oh no, you are not coming in 2015? *sad*
Dr O sends his love! 😉
I so enjoyed reading about your adventures in Italy. I have fond, fond memories of time spent traveling in Europe with my children when they were wee ones.
An ideal vacation for our family would be an autumn trip to Europe, beginning in Prague and ending in Paris, with stops in Austria, Germany, and Italy. Of course we would need a month or more! 🙂
I hope you can do your ideal trip one day soon, I know how hard it is to get away for such a long time in one go.
Your pictures make me long to visit Italy. It has been too long. And, I know just what you mean about your last trip to your typical summer spot – bittersweet. Here’s to new adventures next year!
(No need to enter me in the draw.)
You always end up half a world away from Italy! 😉
I hope a Europe trip is in your near future, Nat!
It is so true. 🙂 Soon, I hope.
I live on island in Croatia so for me summers are not really for traveling. 🙂 I can’t stand the heat… so my ideal one is actually staying at home and be around my friends, going twice a day on the same beach with my bike… but spring and autumn… well, that is different story. 🙂 I would love to see some classics like Venice, Rome, London, Paris… and of course Grasse. 🙂
Beautiful pictures and article – I love both Italy and France – hard to choose :-).
Hopefully you never have to choose! 🙂
Your vacation sounds so lovely (and I was so charmed by the Louisville shirts on the boys!) before I was married with kids, my summers were always spent in France. Now I’ll settle for the non-seedy parts of the jersey shore! Thanks for the draw!
Thank you, trickyholly!
There is some way between France and the Jersey Shore, but both have their charms! 😉