A 50th Birthday Under the Tuscan Sun: Celebrating Life, Friends & Family in an Italian Villa by Sheri B Doyle
My 50th birthday had been planned for 10 years, but then an unexpected pandemic hit and all my dreams had to shift. Uncharacteristically I decided to forgo celebration. I couldn’t imagine a party without family, without the dream I had held for 10 years. Alas, this was not acceptable for my friends so with some serious prodding and relaxing of travel rules I began to dream of a different party. This one would reflect the life I have now, the one I dreamed about and worked for since I was 20.
Living in Italy I have realized what is important is time spent with people we love, who make us laugh, fill us with joy and are passionate about life. The time we spend together, the quality of life, not the quantity is what matter. In order to reflect that, the essence of Italian life, I decided I wanted to celebrate in a villa that represented all that I love about Italy.
I envisioned a long table filled with friends and family, with wine and amazing food, a place to dance and celebrate life and each other. This very tall order was filled the minute I visited Villa Michaela. The perfect setting in the Tuscan hills, surrounded by vine covered stone buildings with views of vineyards and olive trees, mountains and gorgeous stucco villas speckled throughout surrounding countryside.
A long table was set under the budding, fragrant jasmine waiting for the 27 of us to arrive. The chapel was open for a private opera performance, with a view of the sun setting over the Tuscan hills. Prosecco and wine bottles were popped, the evening was set. All dressed in our finest we arrived to celebrate life. Celebrate we did. We told stories, we laughed, we danced under the stars, while glasses filled and emptied with the fruit of the vines surrounding us. All while the cool evening breeze carried the scent of fresh jasmine through the air.
In a last example of the joy of spontaneity a friend jumped into the beckoning waters of the pool. As we stood laughing at his sudden leap into tepid water, I knew my choice to let go of what I had thought was my perfect 50th celebration in favor of a new plan was in fact the ultimate dream. A life filled with the gift of love, of kindness and support is the ultimate dream and I was surrounded by it. All encompassed within the picture-perfect landscape, trailing vines, old stone buildings and the Tuscan skies that fill me with more joy than I have ever known.
Sheri Doyle is a travel blogger and freelance writer. You can find more of her adventures on her blog So Off We Go.
All photos were taken by Thomas S. England.
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