Ferry Ride from Split to Ancona
We loaded ourselves on the ferry in Split a little after 6pm on the 8th. The ferry left the port around 8:30. It was a great night for a ferry ride – the water was perfectly calm and you couldn't tell you were even on a boat. We slept in our little bunk cabin, Daniel got the top bunk and I got the bottom. The bottom bunk came with puppy co-sleepers.
Ancona, Bologna, and Montecatini
We arrived in Ancona, Italy just after sunrise and started our day of driving. Since we couldn't check into the hotel in Montecatini until after 2pm, we decided to drive to Bologna, Italy. The pups are Bolognese breed which originates in Bologna. So they got to visit Parco della Montagnola, a park in the middle of the city where their ancestors started.
We arrived in Montecatini around 3:30 and checked in. We were all exhausted from the drive so we had dinner, cleaned up, and went to bed early.
Rest Day in Montecatini
Our first day in Tuscany was a day of rain (and hail!) and rest. Magnus wasn't feeling great and we were all tired from traveling. We took a morning walk through a beautiful park near our hotel and had a long afternoon nap. Daniel picked up some amazing Tuscan food that we enjoyed in the room. After our nap, our friends from Tennessee, Shauna and John, had arrived and we walked over for a visit under an awning in the rain. It was so nice to hug old friends.
Our second day in Tuscany started slowly. Shauna and John had a morning olive oil tour. We decided to skip it and spent the morning taking a long walk around town and enjoying the clear weather. Around lunch we headed out again after a rest and ran into Shauna and John returning from their olive oil tour. We had a delicious lunch together with the pups and then we walked around the town together. We found one of the lovely spas which was closed, but we'll check it out again. We went back to the hotel for the pups to have dinner and a rest. We skipped dinner because we were still full from lunch.
Sunday in Tuscany we drove to Lucca to explore. Lucca is a town surrounded by walls. In the 18th century they made the tops of the walls a public park. Lucca was full of amazing food and beautiful architecture. We didn't get to explore everything we wanted to, so we're going to go back and walk around the top of the walls (also try to get the same amazing pastry breakfast we had). We walked all over the town on Sunday (over 5 miles walked) and it started to get cold. On the way home we stopped at the best pet store, Arcaplanet, and got the boys a new blanket and a set of footballs.
Pottery Experience at La Galleria Montelupo
Monday we had a pottery experience at La Galleria Montelupo Ceramics in Montelupo fiorentino. It was absolutely magical. We toured a ceramics factory and got to make a bowl with the help of a master potter. It was one of my favorite ever experiences. Daniel is going to write a post about it with more detail from his art degree point of view.
After our Pottery Experience Night Walk
Il Quercione & Pisa
Tuesday Shauna and John visited Florence and we visited the Il Quercione. It's an Oak tree in the middle of nowhere that is over 600 years old. It is said that Pinocchio was written under this tree, and it's the same big oak from chapter 15. After a short visit at the tree we headed to the leaning tower of Pisa. It was absolutely beautiful and I'm so glad it's something we got to experience. When we got back to the hotel we went out for gelato with Shauna and John and then had a visit in our hotel lobby. After our visit we packed to leave for Florence on Wednesday.
Terme Tettuccio & Our Last Day in Montecatini
On Wednesday we checked out, packed the car and visited the Terme Tettuccio (a spa) in the dog's favorite park. Shauna and John went in first and we visited second. They sat with the dogs outside for us while we went in. The spa has different springs to drink from that are said to have healing properties. We didn’t drink any, we just enjoyed the stunning art and architecture. After our spa visit we said goodbye to Shauna and John and headed to Florence. The drive to Florence was beautiful, we avoided the Autostrade and drove through towns and the countryside.