Last summer, on the WanderDad’s birthday, as he was lamenting the fact that this was his last thirtysomething birthday, my wheels started spinning with plans for a 40th birthday party celebration. It would have to be something special. With most of our families in Europe it made sense to combine “the event” with a vacation.
I went into planning overdrive. How do you arrange a get-together for 30+ people anyway ? Firstly, I emailed all the siblings to find out if they’d be interested in vacationing with us – even if they only joined in for a weekend. The response was a resounding “yes”. Excellent. License for me to continue doing what I enjoy to do best: namely planning a trip.
Borrowing from a habit I’ve developed in my real job (never present a question without also offering a solution), I had floated the idea of Italy in June and no-one had complained or offered any alternate suggestions. Super. Then the fun began. Finding accommodation for 21 adults and 12 children in a place which everyone will enjoy, with enough space to not get on each other’s nerves and plenty of kid-friendly activities is non-trivial. Keeping costs in mind added another layer of complexity.
A guidebook (or two) was needed to direct my research. I picked Frommer’s Florence, Tuscany & Umbria and Lonely Planet Tuscany & Umbria” at my local used book store. I chose Lucca as good possible location, being easily accessible from Pisa airport and with rail and bus connections to Pisa, Florence and the beach. An entry in the “Best Of” section in the Frommer’s guide caught my eye: a working farm with multiple remodeled farm buildings in the hills above Lucca. With a restaurant on site specializing in local cuisine.
The owners of this farm have remodeled three out-buildings into apartments each sleeping 2-4 people. The owners live in two apartments with their families. The remaining 12 apartments are available for weekly rental. The facilities are rustic but charming. The apartment in which the WanderDad and I stayed with CAM and BigB was part of the old mill. There was a stream running through the kitchen (under glass tile). That was a huge hit with the kids – we were deemed to have the coolest apartment. An walled garden with a pool and outdoor dining area was perfect for shared dinners every evening – with plenty of space for kids to play. The restaurant provided the perfect location for the actual birthday party.
A collection of cousins – the proof that I am not making this up
I’ve been nominated to arrange the next get-together in 2010. If you have any suggestions or ideas, do let me know.
Information on other agriturismo: http://www.italy-farmholiday.com/, http://www.agriturismo.net/
Weekly rentals start on Saturdays.
Rates: $800 – $1200/week – depending on the size of the apartment.
Dinner menus (set price): $25 – $50. Up to 5 courses including wine.
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wow seems you managed to plan a great family reunion… I specially liked this learning “never present a question without also offering a solution”… Here is what I could suggest for your 1010 family reunion… Reunion Games & Ice Breakers
I’m sort of cracking up at the name: Fattoria Maionchi. It sounds like the opposite of a weight loss spa…and in Italy, no less!
You’re right! I hadn’t even noticed that. Or maybe it was because we became experts at speaking english with italian intonations. Try it: “fatt-or-eeee-ah”. With the accented syllable moved you don’t notice the “fat” part so much at all. (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
oooh this sounds good. I love the picture of the cousins. I live in the US and my family are in Europe so we are constantly trying to get together at various places. What about this place in France? Got it on Travel Savvy Mom.
What a beautiful place to stay! I’m adding it to my Italy file.
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I love reading about Italy. Seggiano is my favorite place to go when traveling in Tuscany.
Hi. I stumbled across your web page by mistake but was glad that I stopped by. My brother and my friends have begun a ton of web research for finding apartments in Italy and where to stay and what not. By the way, thanks for the info – excited I found it by mistake and will remember. With research I quickly began compiling info about Italian apartments for my blog.
We too did a family reunion in Tuscany, but we were only 5 people. We were in the same area as you and the weird thing is that Jane (a commenter) suggested the Roussillon area (Provence) as another place to go. Turns out that is where one of my sons and I went right after Tuscany. We had a lovely rental, but it was only for 5, in Saignon, near Apt.
If you go to that area I highly highly recommend the Saturday morning market in Apt, but do it in the off-season as it gets really crowded in summer.
The person we rented from has a caravan park (with a pool). I don’t know if that is of interest to you for a reunion? You can find a link on my blog on the post dated Nov 29, at the bottom.