We got lucky (or how we came to stay in a castle this summer)

When John and I took our trip to Switzerland this summer to see our girl Marie-Noelle (his daughter, my bonus), we got lucky in many more ways than one. I found fairly last-minute fights that were doable, and we flew both ways uneventfully – which is unusual for us, or at least me, air-travelwise.

The transcontinental jets were small enough that we had two seats alone – window and aisle, which was great.

Marie-Noelle fell into extra time off, so our road trip through the south of France and into Tuscany (which we’d counted on being a last-minute booking success, as it was) got extended by a couple of days. And Marie-Noelle had another surprise for us – she’d already booked one night at a “farm/vineyard” in Greve in Chianti, near Florence. It looked fabulous online and had a real castle on the grounds, so we decided to see if they could accommodate us for two nights since we had extra time.

Marie-Noelle called, and though Castello Vicchiomaggio didn’t have a room for three available for two consecutive nights at that late a date, the gentile signora offered to upgrade us to a junior suite for the same rate. We jumped at the offer.

The Monday our adventure started, John and I picked up our rental car, a cute little Nissan Micra, a brand-new hybrid that got 67 mpg – and we got a free upgrade to a GPS, plus an mp3/iPhone/iPad jack. Music blaring, we collected Marie-Noelle and headed out.

After our first two nights in France (Avignon and Aix-en-Provence), we headed to Italy. It was a long, white-knuckle drive for my white-haired white knight, and we were all a bit punchy by the time we arrived at the farm. We were also a bit awe-struck as we drove up the winding road to the top of the hill.

Could that possibly be it, we were thinking as we came up the winding highway?

A castle! It really was a castle! And we’d be staying on the grounds. Cool.

Check in was easy, and a tall beautiful signorina – she could have been a Disney princess – asked us to follow her to our room. She unlocked a huge door and told us to follow her up these stairs.

Stairs to the Giotti room.

Oh my gosh, we were all whispering. How cool is this? She told us we’d be in the Giotti room and grandly opened the door. We stepped into an enormous living room with oversize (and some antique) furniture and stood there like idiots, just waiting and staring at the grandeur.

Finally she asked us, “You like your rooms?”

Our mouths fell open and we stammered, yes, yes, we like them very much. She gave us a quick tour of the two large bedrooms and bathrooms and the spacious, fully stocked kitchen.

The Tuscan kitchen

Our “junior suite,”  the Giotti room, was an entire wing of the castle, not rooms in the bed and breakfast behind it as we expected. We were floored. We had our own floor.

Princess Marie-Noelle enjoys her room.

Every ancient Tuscan castle needs an eternity pool.


We got lucky. Real lucky.

The History of Castello Vicchiomaggio

My White Knight in plaid armor, also known as The Dude.


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