What are some of the things that we start to worry about the most when we become Mothers?
If you take our child’s wellbeing & future happiness as a given, for me, one of them would be how I’ve changed, and how people’s perceptions of me may have changed also.
Mainly that my conversations were suddenly (yet consistently) monotonous and that my pregnancy glow had been replaced with a zombiefied state.
Pregnancy, child birth and the raising of our little people is all consuming, intoxicating & demanding of our attention.
How innovative and utterly brilliant to come up with a break that allows you to indulge in relaxation, rejuvenation, & conversation until your heart’s content with likeminded Mums, in a spectacularly beautiful setting with help on hand.
This is exactly what Rita and her family have achieved. Rita and Mike, two people with generous hearts and kind spirits own a beautiful Tuscan farmhouse in the village of Caprese Michanelo which lies about 100km east of Florence.
Throughout the year they open their doors up to Mums and their babes offering a variety of mum and baby experiences.
From fitness breaks to cooking breaks, there is a getaway to suit everyone. I visited at the beginning of August, to experience the yoga and cooking break with my two little girls.
And what an experience it was… here are my top 8 favourite things about the Mum and Baby experience :-
1 – The people. There isn’t anywhere better to travel with a baby than Italy. All Italians seemingly love all babies. You are made to feel like a superstar for creating your little bundle at every given opportunity. I obviously thought my baby was gorgeous, but how lovely to be told that on repeat by someone other than my Mum 🙂
It is impossible not to feel warmed by the family that run the breaks. Rita (the mum) & her enchanting stories, Mike (the Dad) with his kindness & humour, Alessia (the daughter) and her infectious laugh, and Sebi (the son) and blue eyed little boy that stole my heart.
Not forgetting the Italian baby whisperer Fernander, the inspirational yogi Renata & everybody else that I encountered who made me feel so very welcome.
I felt safe, relaxed and quite spoiled the entire time that we were visiting. After pregnancy and the new born haze this was most definitely appreciated.
2 – The location & views. They took my breath away. Travelling solo with the two girls became a distant memory as soon as I stepped out onto the veranda of the villa and looked down on the spectacularly beautiful Lago di Montedoglio (Italy’s largest reservoir) and the upper Tiber Valley.
3 – The food. Italian food is my favourite. Authentic Italian food, cooked by jolly Italians who are happy to share secrets & tips over supper was a real treat.
Watching Isabella help Fernanda make tagliatelle is a memory I will treasure. Watching Isabella eat enough tagliatelle to keep a Rugby player going for a year is another.
There were so many lovely, lovely dishes that we were able to enjoy… aubergine lasagne, apple cake, tiramisu, panna cotta are just a few… these were all intermixed with Italian meats, cheeses, olives and tempting regional wines.
4 – The little luxuries. Included in your trip is either a massage, pedicure or manicure. I enjoyed a manicure whilst Penny slept in the rocker and Bella played in the garden.
4) The yoga. I am no yogi. I am unfit, carrying a fair bit of excess baby weight and ridiculously uncoordinated. I was nervous in anticipation of ungraciously falling ass backwards.
I needn’t have worried, as within 30 seconds of meeting the enchanting Renata I felt completely at ease. There was no embarrassment, nor awkward shuffling… just an inspirational lady, with a calming influence and a gift to make people feel relaxed.
(FYI… this is clearly not me in the pic below… this is the lovely Cassie whose knees reach my shoulders (!))
5 – The choices. Enjoy yoga twice daily. Or not. Take part in the Italian cooking lessons, or pass. Visit the local market town, or stay nestled in the villa. Rita is completely relaxed as to how you choose to spend your time.
For me personally, these things contributed to the beauty of the trip. However, if instead of taking part in yoga, you wanted to snooze in the sunshine, Fernanda, the baby whisperer, would still happily care for your baby during your break.
6 – The help. Between Rita, Fernanda and Laura (the bubbly and friendly primary school teacher on hand to help with the older kiddies) we had support available throughout the break.
Travelling with the two little ones on my own made this a real highlight for me. Within an hour of arriving Isabella had explored & settled into her home from home for the week.
She became firm friends with Alessia who was a couple of years older than her and another lovely little girl Ruby and together the three of them played and laughed.
7 – The camaraderie. Mamas like to be able to vent uninterrupted and uncensored. To share worries & concerns… to talk about the good & the crap times.
As much as feeling the sun beat down on my skin, and hearing the giggles from my girls, the friendly ear of another Mama added to the sparkle of this trip.
It may be when I visited, I was very lucky with the group of women that also booked up, but I have a feeling that as Rita is such a warm & gracious hostess, whatever your circumstances when visiting Villa Radicata, and whoever may also visit on your break, you will feel at ease.
8 – The trip to Aghiari. The night before I asked Isabella approximately 19 times is she was sure she wanted to stay at the villa whilst Mummy and Penny went out for the day. It was completely up to me whether she visited the market with us or stayed at the villa.
She could not wave me off with any more enthusiasm if she tried… she had a whole day with her new friends, had been charged with ‘looking after Sebi’ Rita’s gorgeous little boy, which caused her to puff her little chest out with pride, and she would be able to chatter away to Laura, until her heart was content.
That meant that I could explore some more Tuscan beauty with just my littlest babe. I weaved my buggy in between the market stalls and felt my heart burst with pride by having to stop at each turn, whilst a friendly Italian cooed over Penny.
This combined with a beautiful lunch in a spectacular setting made for a day that I consider a stand out success.
Things to know…
I visited during a mum and baby yoga and cooking experience. Rita offers different types of breaks depending on what you are looking for including fitness breaks, Bella Mamma breaks & cooking weekends.
Still available for 2016 is the September fitness and food break from the 6th – 11th September… you can stay an extra night for free if you grab this last minute deal. Have a look on their website now for more information.
There is also a cooking weekend running from October 21st until October the 24th.
Transfers can be included if you fly to Perugia (which flies from Stansted). The transfer takes about an hour and car seats are included in the mini bus. If you want to fly from Bristol to Florence the transfer will take a couple of hours and Rita will happily help you book a train.
Villa Radicata can also be rented out as a private rental and with all the child friendly toys and paraphernalia, the pool & beautiful gardens this would make an ideal base for a family getaway. More details on this can be found here
** We were invited to Villa Radicata for this Mum and Baby Expereience for the purposes of review, as always, opinions are my own.