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June 20th 2011
Published: July 20th 2011
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I had never seen a real bumble bee until I came to Tuscany. They are everywhere in the Lavender beside the villa - the biggest, fattest bees ever, and so pretty but too fast to photograph so far. The children spend lots of peaceful time watching them work, or chasing dragonflies. Last night we saw frogs jumping around in the garden, and this morning one had found it's way into the pool so there was great excitement as we got to have a closer look.

Our mission today was Siena. Originally we had thought of coming to Tuscany for Il Palio - a horse race held on July 2nd in the Piazza del Campo. Now that we are here, I'm almost glad we are too early for it - we would have expired in the heat of that square, and apparently once you're in the middle you can't leave, as the horses race around the perimeter! We nearly fried today in the short time we were there, and everyone became a bit wilted and grumpy in the end so we went home for an afternoon swim.

Having said that, the shops were amazing (never enough time for the girls to look), and Astrid found some great shoes. Isabel and Genevieve were attracted to the antique jewellery, and I was keen on some of the children's clothing shops - there was even 'Miss Sixty' for Isabel, who is getting hard to buy for (They have great clothes for early teens - at great prices when you're in Europe, but ridiculous ones when you're in Australia!). It's her birthday soon and I don't have a thing, but we do have many more towns to visit including Paris, so I'm not panicking yet!

We explored some of the shoe shops around the Campo, let the children loose in a souvenir place, and spent far too much money on wonderful ham, good buffalo mozarella and completely stale bread in one of the few delis open over siesta time. Rock hard all the way through!

Note to self: Stick to pasta rather than bread in Italy, and plan to see Siena next time in the late afternoon and evening. Everything is brick and stone, and holds the heat.

I actually would have liked a little more shopping time, but as it was so hot we even gave up on queueing to see inside the Duomo as planned, and ate ice-cream instead.

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