We flew for about nine hours on Delta, from Portland to Amsterdam, in Comfort Plus seating (just say “yes,” it’s worth it) and landed at about 8:30 in the morning, local time, on Saturday, April 27.

Amsterdam is a very large airport and if you are one of those who counts steps you will like this place.

Unfortunately we had a long layover, about six hours, but some people slept. Finally we were able to get on the

plane to Florence and left a very rainy Amsterdam for sunny Tuscany.

Landing in Florence (local name: Firenze) is tricky because of wind. It’s a tiny airport with a very short runway and many flights get diverted. Ours got down within spitting distance of the runway and then the pilot pulled up. We were told that we would circle around for a while, then try again one more time before diverting to Pisa.

Of course our driver and van were waiting in the Florence airport. But on the second try the pilot got us down – apparently we were one of the few that didn’t get diverted that day. It was really windy.

At the Florence airport we met our greeter (Bill) who speaks American English, and Giovanni, who drives the bus. Bill was just there to greet; Giovanni loaded the bus and we were off to the villa.

For our first night in Italy a welcome dinner had been scheduled for us. (Our travel arrangements have been made by a local travel agency, Tuscany Tours, which is staffed by ex-pat Americans living in Tuscany.) Two chefs and a sommelier were in our kitchen when we arrived, preparing the meal, which was scheduled for 8:30.

I was concerned that after a long day and a half of travel we’d be too exhausted to eat, but the food was so wonderful that everyone made it through. We drank wines that had been specially chosen for each course, and our wine steward explained each of the wines to us and why she had chosen it.

About an hour and a half later we arrived at our villa. It is a 450-year-old house with eight bedrooms. There are several living rooms, a formal dining room, a large kitchen with its own dining table, a huge yard with a swimming pool (not heated frown), an outdoor dining area, several lemon trees and an olive grove.

Most of the bedrooms have their own full bath attached. Every room is on a different level from the others; we have to go up or down a few steps each time we change rooms. There are three floors so we have plenty of space. The walls are super thick and there are many narrow hallways. So it’s easy to get lost.