Stargazing and Ferrari Spotting: Tuscany with Teens

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Sue Baker enjoyed sharing Tuscany with her kids when they were teenagers. They’ve grown up since, and Sue has very recently become a grandma. We hope she’ll get to take her grandson to Italy some day. In the meantime, Sue’s observations remain relevant today.
I have always loved to see my children in awe of nature…from trips to the beach as small children, to camping in Yosemite as older children, to climbing the rocky coast of Maine as adolescents. I wasn’t sure that living on a vineyard in Tuscany would captivate my 19 and 16 year olds as some of the other trips had, but Tuscany didn’t let us down.
The captivation started as soon as we arrived at our farm on a hot afternoon in July. The pool was a welcome sight for hot, tired travelers. Once refreshed, we gazed at the gorgeous view of Tuscany from our poolside. The blue-green grapes surrounding our poolside perch ripened to purple over the course of 2 weeks and added to the color of the landscape. That same patio that provided such awesome daytime scenery was also our last stop at night to view the stars. Nowhere had we seen such a celestial display of shooting stars. This became a nightly ritual led by our teenagers who would urge us to “check out the stars.”
Our little hill town of Montalcino has a fortress at the top. It was fun and a bit of a challenge to climb up into the towers. When we got to the uppermost point, we were rewarded with a tremendously wide vista of the “rolling hills of Tuscany.” That common phrase used to describe the landscape of Tuscany couldn’t be more perfect. It is a landscape like no other; hills rolling into one another as far as the eye can see.  The “wow”s and “awesome”s coming from the teenagers let me know that the sight was not lost on them.
I highly recommend climbing towers with children wherever you find them. They provide good exercise, you can count how many different languages you hear while squeezing past people, and the prize at the end is a fabulous view! Our favorite was the tower in Siena overlooking Il Campo.
The antiquity of the towns of Italy was an aspect of our trip that amazed adults and teenagers alike. It is one thing to see ancient ruins but quite another to live in a 1000-year-old town and climb the narrow, steep cobblestone streets to the grocery store, the pizza shop, and our teenagers’ favorite spot – the cybercafe! That was a welcome “life line” after too much time with Mom and Dad. (Update: all of our Tuscan apartments now have some kind of Wi-Fi service, though your teens may find it more fun to strike out on their own, use a public hotspot, and rub elbows with others!)
A few other teenage attention grabbers in Tuscany are observing crazy drivers, Ferrari spotting, being offered wine with dinner, fabulous pasta and gelato, and the sight of Michelangelo’s David. There is no question that exposing teenagers to other cultures is a very broadening experience, but beyond that, it is just plain fun as parents to see things through their eyes.

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