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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Italy the beautiful - Part I

Have you flown into Firenze?

The airport is new and small. Easy to get around. 
Picking up a rental car is not so easy, nor is landing on a short runway.  
Just before landing the stewardess will tell you about the short runway. 
She will also tell you that the captain sometimes, in the last minute, decides not to land the plane. 
But he will try again and (maybe) again.  

Once the decision has been made to land you better hold on.

And when it's time to leave for home the plane may not fly until the fog clears. 

And you will miss your overseas flight home.  

So simple yet so beautiful.  

For all those reason you might want to know about 
Podere Gattabigia, Lustra a Signa, Firenze, Italy. 

It is only 30 minutes from the airport.
The perfect first night stopover. 
You can get a good nights sleep and tackle the driving and new rental car the very next day.   

The Podere is owned by young interior designer.  
The gardens are beautiful and so is the bountiful breakfast. 
Many people stay here for several days.  

We had a date a little further south.  

2 hours later we reached our home for the next week, outside of
Bibbona, Tuscany, Italy.

Blue arrows point to Marina di Bibbona and inland to the 
 Relais Sant'Elena.

 The stunning Relais Sant'Elena. 
Located in a very quiet valley, surrounded by undulating hills,  offering total relaxation. 

We stayed for a week.

Spring vines and flowers were just beginning to bloom.

Soft woolly blankets ready for cool evenings.

One of the many patios outside of our room. 

And always authentic.

Breakfasts are legendary. Truly unlike anything we have experienced on any of our many trips to Europe. 

  Interiors are stunning.

We loved our suite 

Appointed with fabrics that I love. 

It is peaceful and if you are hankering for the Sea it is only a 15 minute drive to Marina di Bibbona. 

Sant' Elena is perfectly situated for exploring ancient Etruscan villages.  Suvereto is one of the most charming.  But there are many, many more within an hours drive.

Picturesque villages with tiny streets and shops.

 When you have seen one too many medieval villages, 
you can come home to one of the 15 luxuriously appointed rooms
filled with antiques and furniture covered in rare fabrics. 

And  have I told you about the staff of Relais Sant'Elena?  
They are the Best, the very, very Best.  

An outstanding 4 star Country Inn.

Already thinking about booking for Fall.  

Have a great weekend dear friends. 



  1. Dear Gina - this all looks absolutely charming, the gorgeous Italian countryside, the buildings - both inside and out, and the delicious food - it must have been a magical trip that you have both just enjoyed.
    We have only ever flown to Pisa as I didn't realise that you could fly to Florence - your lovely photos tempt me to return.

    1. Dear Rosemary, This last trip was the best trip of them all...but I say that each time. The Sant'Elena is a areal find. It is a place I will not soon forget and will return to.
      Pisa might still be a better option if you decide to travel that direction.

  2. Dear Gina, thank you for the information about the Florence airport. Jeepers!

    And so, I give you an even bigger thank you for the scenery on the ground and in that lovely inn. I must also tell you that your own beautiful home has the same light and elegant atmosphere as the inn. Truly.


    1. Dear Frances, I wish that all my friends could experience Sant'Elena. Didn't think that such a beautiful and peaceful place existed. If you have visited the major sites of Italy then Sant'Elena is a welcome retreat.

  3. Dear Gina,
    it has been well worth waiting impatiently for a report about your latest discoveries in Italy.Your wonderful pictures and the enthusiastic words about this great Country Inn makes me want to be there right now.To get there,however, I will choose wheels over wings.
    Hugs, Sieglinde

    1. Dear Sieglinde, It's true I have been very lazy. You would love this fabulous place. We made friends with a couple from Switzerland who were also staying at the Sant'Elena. They drive through the Gotthard tunnel and are at the Inn in only 5 hours. Next time you visit home you might want to consider driving a little further south.

  4. I just had to come back and re-read Gina - and tell you how beautiful this place looks. I know you truly must have enjoyed every moment here. All that history, the buildings, the markets, the food, the inn. . . .and even the sea close by. What more could one ever want.

    Love, Mary

    1. Dear Mary, I know that you love to travel and that you have been to many exotic and special places. It is seldom that one finds a place that outshines all others.
      We can't wait to go back to Relais Sant'Elena and the environs of Bibbona.