Monday, May 21, 2012

From Blue Bear to Tuscany - Traveling with Anima


My daughter has lived in one city her whole life.  Denver,  sometimes called the Queen City of the West is where she feels comfortable. The city famously has 300 days of sunshine a year, majestic mountains, countless outdoor activities including hiking, biking, skiing and notable sports teams. The nature of it's placement makes it immeasurably attractive, especially for upwardly mobile families raising children.

Blue Bear looking at Blue Bear
Up to a few years ago it was  still referred to as a sort of hinterland as far as 'real' cities go. Fortunately (or not) it's residents have seen an influx of people who stream in everyday in the hope that they too will become Denverites and live the life of sunny sports 365 a year.   Denver's life style has gotten a good polish in the last few years and superficially, the sheen of hokeyness that might have hovered over the city in previous years has been replaced by a burgeoning theater, art and restaurant scene not to mention top events, national press and enthusiastic game changers, none of whose names I can now, unfortunately remember. But believe me when I tell you Denver is great.

Skate Girl

The family loved living in Denver.  I think I understand why. Denver is homey. Comfortable. It is manageable and still it gets gets a thumbs up for coolness as far as cities go. It's the reason we remained many years longer even when I personally felt it was time to move on.

Love Dog
My kids developed into lovely and down to earth people - which I think has a lot also to do with the good energy of the city they live in.

Denver from Sloan's Lake

Lots of  things to do in Denver with kids although for the most part they are the same things you do in any decent sized city: The Aquarium, Zoo, Children's Museum, Natural History Museum, Rocky's Baseball and of course the skiing in the mountains, which is not something that every decent sized city has. There are loads of parks in the city, outfitted with play areas, soccer and baseball fields and plenty of concerts, festivals and events that kids can engage in with their parents. A parent can go as near and deep as he/she wants to - the energy level is up to them - the city infrastructure is all set and the natural resources are all there.

Lakeside Amusement Park

From this very organized and perfect set up we have recently moved on to an equally wonderful but completely different, Tuscan landscape.

Gazing at Chianciano

S. Biaggio 


 Castle @Montalcino
Last month, Ani and I came to a small village in the southern part of Tuscany to stay.  The beauty of the village and it's surroundings is every bit as stunning as the Rocky Mountains. Grounded in history, agriculture, power and art, the area has developed into a heaven for vacation seekers and food and wine connoisseurs.

As much as I am personally charmed, I have come to realize that many or maybe all of the things I cherish about being here are relatively unimportant to kids, for instance -  my daughter.  Children love to run, play, eat, laugh and make friends and are best when they feel safe to be themselves. Bagno Vignoni and Denver are diametrically opposed in life styles but in both cities we have found that the real fun is in relationship and in interacting with nature.

The small village of Bagno Vignoni has roughly 100 inhabitants but thousands of tourists annually.

They come for the history and to relax at the thermal pools. It's been a destination since well before the Romans, who apparently made it a regular stop on pilgrimages.  It is famous for a Piazza filled with water that a saintly woman supposedly bathed in.

At the Bagno Vignoni vasca

Field Trip for School Children
 Every day there are tour buses that cruise through for an hour or so to glimpse the famous square and the Parco dei Mulini, (recently restored) that are the ruins of innovative wind mills used in medieval times for grinding grain. School kids too come to enjoy the scenery and especially enjoy putting their feet into the thermal water that runs down the gorello over the cliff  to the ruins below.

Practically every mile along the road to and from Bagno Vignoni there is some wondrous  landscape or historical house - Charles Dickens apparently slept in a now abandoned stone house not a mile from us on the via Cassia, the ancient road that leads to Rome.

The Girl & an 8th Cent Lion @ San Quirico

Cheering on the Mille Miglia San Quirico d'Orcia

One of the many Ferrarri's @the Mille Miglia

 I list the amazing history of art and culture surrounding us whenever we are driving to and fro for a loaf of bread or to spend an afternoon looking at Etruscan sites near Chiusi. In my heart I believe Ani is absorbing it all and storing it in that memory bubble we all draw on later in later years. For now it is tentative, but she is giving it her all, taking pictures for the blog and trying to learn enough Italian to negotiate a conversation with the local kids.

Near Chiusi

At the Stables @Castiglione

What she really enjoys is putting her feet in the hot water, exploring the paths around the pools and eating delicious food like a real Italian. She has become the latest convert to homemade Pici and fresh mozarella.

A plate of Pici (

The most difficult thing since the move has been homesickness. The house we are staying in is a safe haven and has been paramount in easing the longing for loved ones.

There are fields all around and dogs and cats and birds and flowers. The constant contact with nature has done miracles for a beautiful bird heart that misses the big city but most of all the hugs of her grandmother and big brother.

Best Friends in Colorado
Since our arrival in our new home, we have found that the birds and the bees and the company of a good dog usually brings everything in perspective.

Finding the Path with Shep

Fetching Stones w Shep

Shep the Plate Holder

Till next time, Traveling with Anima wishes you the best from the Tuscan countryside.  Our Traveling Mom friends, AlexValentina, Monica, Silvia and Melissa are all talking about their home towns today too, so please click on the links and read their suggestions on where to go and what to see with your babes when you are in Milano, San Francisco, Marostica, Naples and Pisa!!

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