Norcenni Girasole (www.ecvacanze.it) was named as the only four star campsite in Tuscany in our guide book, so we made a bee line to it from Rome, as we have gotten spoiled by the luxury campgrounds of Europe and especially enjoy them off season. Dutch, French, Italian, German and UK voices abound in this camping village south of Florence, but we did not find one American voice and the Scottish waitress said that she had never met any here.
This one was quite a bit cheaper than the one in Rome and much nicer, more similar to the one we loved in Barcelona with even a more beautiful setting. It is so big that we will not even be able to explore all of it in the few days that we will be here. There are vineyards,Tuscany farm houses, bike and hiking trails that we will want to explore more deeply when we return in the fall when hopefully it is cooler. It is hard to believe we have all of this for only twenty eight dollars a night.
We did not even make it to the horse ranch on the property (Vecchio Texas)which was one of the reasons we came. Mozart is addicted to horse riding now that she got a taste in Spain. It happened to always be booked or closed during the early morning hours which was the only time I could fathom going in this heat which tended to make us even lazier than usual. Pools and hanging out in the shade relaxing and reading made the time roll by. The lady in the store said it is unusually hot right now and it was freezing last year at this time, both extremes are strange.
The restaurants have wonderful food, but I have to admit barbecuing our own food and making our own luscious salads made for some of the best meals we have had in Europe. We like California style salads (with everything in them but the kitchen sink) which are hard to come by in Europe. We just bought a new little barbecue at the hypermarket in Rome and a very Italian table cloth here (both have been on our list) so especially enjoyed our home cooked dinners in this gorgeous setting.
Most of the food in the restaurants were well priced as well as being good. DaVinci had a delicious linguini with seafood (clams, calamari, etc.) for only seven euros, the pizza was much cheaper and better here than at the take out place at our campsite in Barcelona (4.40 euros compared to 9 euros for identical size and toppings). I had a great salad with chicken for six euros one afternoon for lunch and Mozart had a yummy broccoli and penna pasta meal. They have kids meals with ice cream for dessert for five euros. Every restaurant seems to have a four page menu, so there are endless choices. We did not mind splurging a little on meals out, but also made most of our own.
It is really a great place for all ages, so perfect for retired folks and families. There is so much that appeals to the aesthetic senses of older people with the vineyards, olive trees and stone houses and great hikes and tours are available. Kids go wild for the many killer pools, playgrounds, gelateria and water park. The big slide at one pool was a favorite of Mozart’s and DaVinci’s. She is fearless and loves the speed, water, slide combo. She also was mad about the water park and its delights. They have a baby dance every night and a kids club that she checked out, but was less interested in them.
One of the things that we like here are the birds. There are some wonderful birds singing away as we sit in the shade with the cool breeze. They also have various birds in large cages near the restaurant areas. There is a cooing dove that has become my morning wake up call as her favorite perch is in the pine next to our camper and its open top windows.
The biggest surprise was the baby birds in the area where we wash dishes. There are so many nests with babies all around the buildings, especially the bathroom and shower area. I am not sure what kind of bird they are, but they have a white breast and dark wings and seem very sweet and friendly.
Speaking of bathrooms, the same people who made the kids bathroom and showers in Rome must have made this one too as they are very similar with the same color and same cat and mouse and dog and house theme. Mozart appreciates this and they even have a child’s bathroom and sink in some of the restaurant bathrooms. I must admit that the kids shower is a great place to wash her hair after a swim.
Her hair is already lightening up again as it does every summer in the sun (now to try to keep the pool chlorine from giving it a greenish cast). She is thrilled to have the opportunity to ride her bike when ever she wants in our little corner. Besides playing with her loose teeth with her tongue and fingers, her favorite task at the moment is making herself sandwiches with ritz crackers or bread and organic peanut butter or Nutella. (For those that do not know, Nutella is a chocolate and hazel nut spread that is very popular with kids in Europe as they do not tend to do peanut butter, which we have from home.)