Our good life on Lago di Garda & Pistoia

My favorite beach: Baia del Vento

They say Paris is always a good idea. Italy is always a good idea, 100%! I always struggle with— is it too touristy, too crowded, too hot? The answer: No! I love to do, see, and visit on vacations. I see that my family is less in that mode. So when it’s too hot to do anything, but swim at the pool, go to a beach, stop for a cool drink somewhere, well that’s just perfect.

I completely understand why Lago di Garda can be busy in the summer. The temperatures are hot, you’re near the mountains, the lake is warm enough to swim in. It’s a perfect storm. Moniga del Garda was a good fit for us. I think if we had gone any further south, it would have been too busy. Dining al fresco options, beautiful lake views from the apartment, pristine pool, and close to some beautiful beaches.

Some of the highlights for me were the physical activities. Flora absolutely loved the rope course and climbing. She wanted to go higher, higher, higher. It was only because of the height restrictions — she had to stop. One day at Baia del Vento, we rented a paddle boat complete with slide. It was fantastic! Amazing mountain views, Thibault having no fear swimming with his arm baandjes, and perfect temps. It was really magical for me.

I can’t forget Pistoia. We stayed at a very rustic B&B right outside of hot Pistoia. We went to Pisa one day, saw the tower. It was more beautiful than we imagined. Had some relaxing days by the pool and beautiful cool evenings exploring Lucca by night. We biked on top of the city walls one night, dined al fresco both nights, and enjoyed Luchese cuisine! I just love Italy. Forever grateful for this beautiful holiday.

Italian Summer: A wedding in Tuscany

Farm stay in Cortona

Our Italian holiday was incredible. They say Paris is always a good idea, but I believe the same is true for Italy. The entire place just oozes of happiness. We stayed at some pretty magical places. This farm stay in Cortona was gorgeous. Our quick stop for lunch in Switzerland could not have been more picturesque. The wedding was magical. My friend Elaine was so brave to plan a wedding in the middle of a pandemic. Her courage and hopefulness inspired me. I’m so happy the children got to go to a wedding and experience how much fun it could be. I was floating on a wedding high for three days afterwards!

My children loved Italy. The weather was too hot to do anything and I loved it. Watching Flora read books poolside is a dream come true. Thibault learning how to become more comfortable in the water, trying new foods, and loving the language. It was such a magical time our first few nights in Cortona.

Famliy Trip: Lecce, Italy


This photo pretty much sums up our last day in Italy. Taking advantage of the good life and delicious Italian food. We drove to Lecce for the day—famous for it’s (Lecce baroque) architecture. We had a great day strolling the city’s centre and enjoying the cuisine!

Flora and Jaap always make a donation to churches we visit and light the candles. A little tradition that Oma and Opa have taught her. ūüôā


Some of our best eats of the trip were at casual eateries. We ate lunch outside this Italian deli-like place and had a delicious meal. Good pizza and delicious orecchiette with this amazing burrata cheese. It was fantastic! Flora was eating a ham and cheese sandwich (!!??) and all were merry. After a stroll through a local park and a short nap for Thibault, we treated ourselves to the last (and best!) gelato of the trip. This shop is to die for.¬†If you’re ever in Lecce, stop at Natale! This place is heavenly and has so many delicious treats! Thibault approved. Our first family trip to Italy ended on a high note! Grazie, Salento!


Family Trip: Otranto


I’m really glad we ended up in Otranto. This was a recommended stop from a friend of mine. The weather was warm, dry, and sunny. We stayed in this incredible “agrotourismo” farm stay, close to the beach, Otranto, and Lecce. These views alone of crystal clear, turquoise water, and the calm sea made this trip worth it.


Flora discovered she loved mussels! She’s our adventurous shellfish eater. I’m so happy she is not a picky eater. It makes traveling so much easier for us, plus I really feel that she is experiencing one of the best parts of traveling—the delicious food! We were at the supermarket yesterday and they had pomegranates on sale. I asked her if she wanted me to buy some. She said, “No, Mom. I only like the ones in Italy.” Smart girl! Lots of things taste better in Italy!




Otranto & Baia dei Turchi


By far, our day at the beach in Otranto was the best! This photo is my favorite of the entire trip. I never actually thought it would be warm enough to take a swim, but it was warmer down in Salento and we were able to have one afternoon on the beach playing in the water.


Clear turquoise blue water, a wooded path down to the beach, warm water, and beautiful sunshine.


I really couldn’t believe that this day was possible. Flora was so excited to take a dip. Check out this photo. Thibault would drown himself in about 2 seconds. The boy has no fear. At one point we were sitting on the beach, Flora and Jaap were building a sand castle, and Thibault was eating the sand. I looked at Jaap and said, “Babe, life doesn’t get better than this.” So whenever I have some tough days I think of these moments. Moments where I remember how lucky I am to be living my best life with the love of my life and two happy children.¬†IMG_6333






Italian Snapshots

A few snapshots from Matera, Alberobello & Ostuni…

Exploring Matera..

Flora running around the property at the trulli in Alberobello.


Flora and I taking pictures of all the different types of plants on the grounds. Tons of cactuses, huge aloe plants, and pomegranate trees.

Some of the trulli in Alberobello.


Jaap and Thibault enjoying lunch in Ostuni.


Thibault being held by one of the employees at a cafe in Ostuni. He was a little fussy and the man asked to hold him. Then took pictures and sent it to his girlfriend.


Family Trip: Matera, Italy


Visiting Matera was an interesting day trip. What a unique place. It’s unlike anything I have ever seen before. This city has been inhabited for thousands of years. Continuously! It’s really incredible and the views are stunning. Once called the “shame of Italy” by an Italian Prime Minister in the 1950s, Matera is now a growing cultural site and tourist destination. These ancient cave dwellings, which are mostly hotels and B&Bs now, were once overcrowded and impoverished slums. The history is sad, but Matera has made quite a turn around in a short period of time.


View of the gorge

My friend Teena had recommended we visit this place. We knew we’d have to carry Thibault in the Ergo and Flora would have to do a lot of walking because you can’t get very far without hiking some stairs. I was so proud of Flora. She walked everywhere and was so excited to learn about these cave dwellings.

We went to a ¬†museum that replicated what it was like to live in a cave dwelling. Things were going smoothly until Thibault cut his finger on some artifacts and started bleeding, which we couldn’t stop for about 20 minutes, so a little drama ensued. Mostly created by myself. We decided to abandon ship, our beautiful walk around Matera, and head for lunch. I guess when you’re in Matera you should eat at Soul Kitchen. It was recommended by my friend, our host at the trulli, and Lonely Planet. But alas, Thibault was injured, Flora was getting tired, and we needed something fast! Luckily we found this delicious focacceria right on the main street of Domenica Ridola. Delicious focaccias and sandwiches! Plus, the young baker was blasting Foo Fighters music. Even better!



Family Trip: Puglia & Salento


Happily exploring the grounds at the trulli

We have recently returned home from an 8 day trip in Puglia and Salento in southern Italy. Italy never disappoints. What’s not to love about this beautiful country? I feel so lucky to be living this life with my family. Here is a little bit about our journey.

We first stayed for 3 nights in a¬†trulli on the outskirts of Alberobello. Staying here was an experience. The 200+ year old trulli are run by this lovely family who treated us to such lovely hospitality. The homemade yogurt, cakes, and cookies at breakfast are something I will never forget. After our first breakfast Flora said, “I love Italian food!”

Our host Donato recommended restaurants that locals go to in Alberobello. He made us a reservation for one up the street for Sunday lunch. Big family time in Italy! I love seeing this family tradition. Large Italian families, kids running around the restaurant, loud conversations and smiles, DELICIOUS food, and amazing service. The food was incredible. Flora discovered she loves clams! And this mozzarella almost moved me to tears!

We were only 12 km from Locorotondo, so we drove there after lunch and just walked around this white washed town while Thibault took a nap. Flora found a speeltuin, we all ate gelato, and the sun was shining. No museums to see, no major monuments or historical sites, just pure Italian beauty!