Meet Jim from Kent and his beautiful daughter Rosa, who recently travelled to Gelso in the glorious region of Tuscany, and discovered first-hand just how much Italians love ‘bambinos’…
Going on holiday with your 7 month old baby, I’d heard, wasn’t worth it. Same stuff, different place.
‘She’ll still need naps at the same time’
‘You’ll have to make up her food, and you’ll end up with, what, an hour to do something in the afternoon.’
The people that told me that didn’t know about a little place called Italy.
For no particular reason, my baby Rosa – simply for being a baby – was a VVIP, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga combined, Hello Kitty and cute puppy all in one, and we were her publicity managers. The first time we had an ‘O DIO!!!’ from a perfect stranger was in a supermarket car park, and I thought we were being attacked until I figured out what they were saying (such was the excitement). And it was non stop – not that we wanted it to stop. This army of baby-loving grannies came to be known as the ‘Italiano Grannianos’, and extra effort was made in the morning when we dressed her to make sure Rosa was looking her best.
We did, more or less, stick to the routine, and yes, we did end up spending a couple of hours making madam’s food. But at home, once she’s gone to bed, we don’t have this view…
Every night, we’d sit out and have some amazing antipasti and a bottle of chianti (wine is a BIG thing in Al Gelso and this area) and watch the ‘show’ as the sun set.
Then there was the location. You can actually see San Gimignano and it’s stunning towers on the other side of the valley. We went there, then watched Tea with Mussolini that night, and realised we’d missed quite a famous painting by Ghirlandaio in the duomo – if you’ve seen the film, they go on about it quite a bit. We did end up going back later on in the holiday, and the steward at the duomo not only recognised us, well, Rosa, but actually remembered her name! She then gave us a special private tour simply because she liked babies. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I can’t see that happening in our home town. In fact, being away from the UK made me wonder do we as a nation actually even *like* babies?
It’s also bang in the middle between Siena and Florence. 30-40 mins drive in either direction, which means you can ‘pop in’ if you want to, which we did. Coffee in Italy’s not bad.
Vineyards are everywhere, like everywhere, producing some of the world’s best wine. Ancient villages galore, top restaurants – cheap/expensive, pizza/posh – they’re all amazing.
Al Gelso Biancho was really lovely. All the staff were super welcoming and no job was too small for them. They all made such an effort to say hello, particularly to Rosa, and make sure everything was ok every single day. I’ll confess, we made the most of the babysitting service – as much as we possibly could without people thinking we were irresponsible. The facilities they had for babies were everything we needed, and there was a really good balance between it being baby friendly but not baby mad. It’s a very traditional, tasteful, classy place with beautiful, beautiful gardens. Rosa had her first go on a swing, met the chickens (they have chickens), met the cats (they have cats), and learned to make pasta with us. If they’re doing the cooking course when you go, do it! Just, do it! It’s brilliant. I’d never made pasta before and it’s so much better fresh – I’ve already ordered a pasta making machine online for home (I definitely will use it. Definitely). The teachers (Irene’s mum) are brilliant and kept the kids entertained and engaged, as well as their slightly tipsy parents (they had some wine on the go), which is no easy feat.
This holiday was a goodie. I can honestly say that going on holiday with a baby is worth it, particularly if it’s in Italy. We’d have had a good holiday if we’d gone here without Rosa, but with her we had an extra-special one.
Click here to read more about Al Gelso
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