Today is July 7th. 7/7. I’ve always liked the number 7; I wore it on my jersey for most of my pitching “career.” Some say it’s a lucky number and some say it represents completeness and perfection. Whatever it means, I knew when I woke up, even before I knew the exact date, that this particular day was significant. So I looked back at my old blog and found this post from three years ago. I wrote it on July 6, 2012, the day before we moved into our farmhouse. So that’s it! July 7 was our move-in date, three years ago.

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Hard to believe it’s been three years since we left all that was familiar and comfortable in the city and moved to a completely unfamiliar, unpredictable farm life in the country. And not in Texas at all, but in Tennessee! Sometimes I still can’t believe we really did this. That I did this. It still feels like the craziest, bravest thing I’ve ever done. {Aside from barebacking the pony in my pasture with no saddle, no reigns, no nothing. Now, that’s a story!}

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I get more emails from blog readers about our move than anything else. I’m blown away by all the people who want to know about moving to Franklin specifically. And some who are dreaming about farm life. But more than anything, people just want to know about chasing a dream. They want to know how we did it and what the hardest and best parts have been. They want to know if they can do it, too. My short answer is yes, if God is speaking to your heart and directing your steps, you can do anything He inspires you to do.

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But of course, there’s always a long answer. I have lots of words to describe what this move has been like for me, which is one of the reasons I continue to write my heart out over time. I also know our story isn’t finished. Sometimes, we still don’t know why we’re here. All we know is it’s a bigger story than just moving from the city to a farm. So, I still don’t have all the answers, but because we’ve been here three years now, I thought I’d do a little reflecting…just whatever pops up in my heart this morning. {It might be interesting to see how this post compares to my reflections only six months into our move.}

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I’ve heard people say it takes two years to settle into a place. For me, I’d say it takes more like three. Maybe I’m slow. Or maybe it’s an introverted homebody thing. Either way, I’ve learned to give myself a lot of grace. So what if I still use GPS to get around most days? When you’ve only lived in one place your entire life {and stayed close to your neighborhood most of that time}, you don’t develop very strong navigational skills. You just put yourself on autopilot and go, because you know your lifelong bubble like the back of your hand. Not knowing where I am still happens to me often here. It’s disorienting. And it’s okay.

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The hardest part of living in a new place has been the unfamiliarity of it all. Not just the getting lost while driving, but not seeing anyone I recognize when I’m out and about. I still walk into Whole Foods, Target, or wherever else and hardly ever see a familiar face. And the rare times I do see someone I know, I’m so shocked that I’m almost speechless! Again, part of this is just an introverted homebody thing, but sometimes I miss the feeling of being in a store and running into someone who’s known me my entire life. Someone who knew me when…. I’ll never have that here. Nor will my girls. But I’ve learned that’s okay, too. I’d rather be deeply known by a few than run into everyone I know in a grocery store.

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So yes, after three years, I still feel like the new girl at times, but not nearly as much as I did in those first two years. And guess who’s developed a tender heart toward the new girl? You guessed it! I can appear almost extroverted when I meet a new girl, especially the quiet, introverted kind who doesn’t look like she knows where she fits in. I know that place so well by now and recognize it when I see it. I’ve actually formed a dear friendship with a new girl in the last year. She moved from her familiar, comfortable life in Minneapolis to an all new farm life in Franklin. Oh, how I can relate! It turns out, we’re kindred spirits in a lot of ways. Long, lingering visits at one of our farms has been a huge gift to my heart in the last year.

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Okay, so the getting lost and not feeling known or knowing others will make any move feel uncomfortable for most people, but add a whole bunch of farm animals to the mix and now you’ve got a girl who’s so out of her comfort zone that she couldn’t find her way back to it if she tried! I’m a different person than I was three years ago. And much of it has to do with living on a farm. It’s just messy! And the more animals you add to the mix, the messier it becomes.

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I still can’t believe we went from no pets to all these animals. I’ve lost count at this point. Sure, I could stop right now and count them all, but it’s not really the number that matters. It’s what they represent. Not only the mess, but the huge learning curve. Talk about newness! With each new kind of animal, you have a whole new set of things to learn. Even with the dreamy kind. I seem to forget this is true. So take the pony in our pasture for example. In my dream world, she’d just graze and gallop and look pretty. Nope. Her presence has thrown all the other animals out of balance. The alpha role has been seriously rocked. And of course, the mess. The bigger the animal, the bigger the mess! But as with all of the other animals on the farm, she’s teaching me things. About myself and about life. About beauty and brokenness.

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And this shedding Sheltie at my feet continues to deposit massive amounts of hair all over my house, but I’ve learned to let it go for longer periods of time. I don’t use the stick vacuum nearly as often. And the brown stripe across the skirt of my favorite white linen chair? Letting that go for now, too. Because if I wash it today, he’ll just rub his dirty farmdog body against it again tomorrow. Sometimes I shock myself with this increased tolerance for messiness and dirt. Animals have been a huge part of my therapy, but so has counseling, inner healing prayer and lots of time alone with God. I’ve learned that when your internal world is peaceful, you don’t feel the need to control your external world as strongly. And honestly, everyone in my family is thankful for that!

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So the hardest part of our move? Honestly, for us, it’s not the newness, the change, the starting over or even all the animals and hard work that goes into keeping a farm. We wish those things were the hardest parts of our move. All of those things would’ve been more than enough for any family.

But for us, the hardest part of our move has very little to do with the move itself. The move just exposed what we had ignored and avoided for so many years. When we got here, we moved into uncharted territories…physically, emotionally and spiritually. Three years in, here’s what I know: everyone has a story. And most of our stories need healing in some place or another. To receive the healing, you have to know where it hurts. {Think of a child who needs a kiss or a bandaid on an ouchie. The first thing they do is show you where it hurts.} Pressing into the hurting places is painful, but this is where the healing begins. The last three years have been the most broken kind of beauty I’ve ever known. But God continues to infuse hope into the hardest places. He’s doing a new thing! And while the process of being made into a new thing is painful at times, we’d rather be made new than go back to the way we were.

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As my oldest daughter wrote in her latest song, it’s messy to come alive. Everything about this move has been messy. But as I look at the four of us, I can see that we’re more alive than ever. Despite the hard parts of moving into uncharted territory, Ten 10 Farm has become a place of life for us. And our greatest joy is when we get to share the life we’ve found with others. Whether it’s having someone over for tea, cooking dinner for friends, sharing our eggs, or hosting an occasional beauty hunting retreat, we’re always looking for ways to give more life away.

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Wishing you abundant life right where you are today!

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  • Becky Mullowney - “I’ve learned that when your internal world is peaceful, you don’t feel the need to control your external world as strongly.” Awesome! I’m quoting you today on FB and linking to your post. Thanks! Blessings, Becky M.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Hi Linsey ~ Beautiful post! Where, oh where, did you get your egg container and labels?! I’m sure you designed that amazing label! Thank you, ~julieReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Yes, I designed the labels. I think I bought the containers from eggcartons.com. I remember googling “round plastic egg containers.” They’re a little pricey, but I love the way they show off the beauty of the eggs. Plus, I love pretty packaging!ReplyCancel

  • Eliza - Well, what do you know? I was searching guest rooms on Pinterest and up came a pic from your blog. What a treat it has been to get to know you over the past year. I love the way you write about “being fully known”. Thank you for the honor of allowing our sweet group of women to get to “fully” know you over the past few months. Love your heart for God and your obedience to His call. Believing for great and mighty things for you and your family this year! Love you, sweet friend.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I love how God does that. How He brings people here through beauty. While I no longer blog much about interior design beauty, God still uses it often to make a connection. So glad you ended up here, but even more, I’m glad I ended up in that sweet group of women who have prayed like mighty warriors over me and others. I’m with you…believing in great and mighty things!ReplyCancel

  • Inga - Beautiful post!
    Yes indeed, you can only heal if you know where it hurts and where the pain came from, so very true! I had a ‘little ‘ issue this week and as I was reflecting I realized that I am not afraid to fall (off my horse) but to get hurt…
    Animals give us so much unconditional love…get a little robot vacuum for the hair, it does a good job!

    Have a blessed day!ReplyCancel

  • Eleanor - Wow. This post rocked my world more than you might ever know. My husband and I have held a long standing dream of buying acreage in TN. It has begun to evolve into something real and with God’s grace we may be there before the end of the year. At times when it didn’t seem possible I reminded myself that God never puts a dream in your heart that he doesn’t bring to pass. My trust is what continues to get me through as we currently hover in a “holding pattern”.
    Thank you for your words today. They were such a blessing. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • kristi - Such a wonderful journey. We have just begun ours and a friend turned me toward your blog for guidance along the way. We moved from a golf course community to a mini farm 4 acres that backs to an 8 acre lake. I’m thrilled to start this “farm” life as soon as baby 7 makes her debute next month. I’m already at more peace just looking out the window. Blessings for your continued journey!ReplyCancel

  • Sandy - Linsey, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since you moved and I found your sweet blog. I’ve loved following along this journey of yours. You have a beautiful way of writing and sharing your heart. Your family is precious and it’s been such fun to watch your girls grow. Thank you for sharing your life and more importantly, your heart. I know that God is going to continue to Bless you and your family! Here’s to many, many more wonderful years of Bravehearted Beauty!
    Oh, and I completely agree with you about the animals. We have two precious rescue dogs that fill our lives with so much love and acceptance. (And Inga is so right, the robot vacuumes are amazing.)ReplyCancel

  • Teresa - Thank you for such an inspiring message! I’m a country born but city bred girl myself, and am both extremely excited and anxious about making our family’s big move from the west coast to Franklin. We just bought a 15 acre mini farm and plan (hope, pray) to be there by next summer.

    We’ll be leaving our beloved adult children and long-time friends behind and just taking our youngest 12 year old daughter with us. It’s very scary to think that we will not know a soul in our new home but I think my heart is already in Franklin – fell in love at first sight last summer and again during our next two visits before we found our property. Im just hoping we all adjust well to the move, especially our daughter in her new school.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Hi- It is refreshing to hear this. I am not even two years in to my new town. We live near the Woodlands, TX. TX in general is all new to me. Some days I feel like I love it and other days not as much. It’s hard to explain these feelings to most people who have never moved or have not had to move a lot. I do have a few friends but it’s hard to meet new friends as you get older because I think you know yourself more and how you want to spend your time. I love all sorts of people but the people that I want to invest my time in and share my heart with are far and few between. It’s so weird that I live in Houston now and you live in Franklin. My stepmother and brother actually live in Franklin and I love it there, it is beautiful. Maybe if I ever come back to visit I can stop by the farm and bring my kids to see the animals. Have a great day.ReplyCancel

  • A Different Kind of Broken » Bravehearted Beauty - […] hunt for beauty. Finding beauty in brokenness has emerged as the theme of my life, especially since our big move. I pick up my camera like a sword on a regular basis and fight to see beauty in every broken, […]ReplyCancel

  • Mary Smith - Hello,

    Where do you get your round egg cartons, please? I always have extra eggs but don’t have cartons to give them away. I love the round ones.

    Thanks!!

    MaryReplyCancel

What good is beauty if you experience it all alone? Even God wanted to share the beauty He created. {And He chose us!} My heart beats with God’s in that way. I love beauty, and I love sharing it. So thank you, Bravehearted Beauties, for sharing in the beauty of Italy with me these last few posts. And for showing up here again and again to see what beauty can be found in every kind of place…even the broken places.

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Italy is a beautiful place. But ultimately, beauty makes a place worth visiting; people make a place worth remembering. Particularly your people. {Which is why home can be every bit as beautiful as any vacation spot.} Even more than the artistic and architectural details, the hilltop villages and dramatic coastlines, here’s why I loved Italy:

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Was it a perfect vacation? No. People aren’t perfect, so as long as you’re with people {including yourself}, you can bet it will be imperfect. But that’s part of the beauty…the imperfection.

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As I practice beauty hunting in everyday life, here’s one thing I’ve learned: just as you can find beauty in broken places, you can find beauty in broken people. We’re all broken people. And we’re all absolutely BEAUTIFUL. When you learn to embrace the beauty in your own brokenness, you become even better at embracing it in others.

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If we saw ourselves and each other through God’s eyes, it would take our breath away. Even more so than the dramatic coastline of Positano. You are that stunning!

Here’s to seeing beauty in people today!

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P.S. My sister loves Italy, but her family made a wise decision to pass on this trip. I can’t even imagine trying to take in all that beauty with three little boys in tow…much less navigate the crowds and scooters, walk all day, and then the long, lingering meals that last late into night. Hard even for a superhero mom like my sister. But we can’t wait to see them here on the farm next month!

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After all the walking in Florence and the day trips in the Tuscan countryside, we said goodbye to my parents and headed south to the Amalfi Coast for some sea therapy. Thanks to the recommendations of my aunt and a Houston neighbor who know me well, we stayed in the beautiful town of Positano all four nights instead of hopping along the coastline from town to town. And I’m so glad we did.

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Postiano took our breath away! It’s the most stunning coastline I’ve ever seen. It’s both rugged and elegant…my favorite combination. It’s one of those postcard perfect places…immediately recognizable once you’ve been and drop dead gorgeous in a photo no matter how average your photography skills are.

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In contrast to Florence, there was more astounding God-made glory: the steep cliffs, jagged mountain tops, the changing colors of the sea…things no man can replicate. Combine that with the man-made marvels of winding roads, colorful buildings stacked into the mountainside, and fantastic food…and you have a heaven on earth kind of place.

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We enjoyed our hotel so much that it’s worth a mention: Hotel Buca di Bacco. It was highly recommended by my aunt and Trip Advisor reviews. Finding a nice hotel for a family without breaking the bank is tricky in Europe, and especially in Positano. I love a bargain on most things, but I’ve learned I’m no longer a bargain girl when it comes to hotels. {I stayed at Motel 6 early in marriage and will camp in a tent if it speaks love to my family, but when I visit an elegant place, I like an elegant hotel.}

Our terrace was the perfect spot for relaxing.

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Buca di Bacco isn’t a steal, but after lots of research and seeing Positano first-hand, I can’t imagine a better place for the price. We enjoyed a great location, a newly updated suite with a beautiful bathroom, a large terrace overlooking the sea, and an incredible breakfast buffet with cappuccinos included! They also had a cooking school…something my husband enjoyed while the girls were at the beach and I devoured a friend’s newest novel, Happiness for Beginners. {A great summer read by the way.}

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Another Amalfi Coast tip: don’t drive yourself. The roads are curvier than any car commercial you’ve ever seen. Not to mention narrow and on the edge of a cliff! One of my husband’s patients recommended Giuseppe with Positano Drivers. We loved him. He picked us up at the train station in Naples, took us to a famous pizza place for lunch, stopped in Pompeii so we could walk through the ruins {fascinating!}, then on to Positano, his hometown. Not a bargain {nothing in Positano is}, but zero carsickness…and that’s saying a lot for a family who gets carsick easily.

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My final tip: see the coast from the water. This is true of any coast in my opinion, but the Amalfi Coast is particularly dramatic from the water. Charter a boat if you want to splurge, but at the very least, take a boat tour of some sort. I thought I found the best deal going and chartered a boat for half the price my husband had found. {Always the bargain girl!} But let me tell you: a boat is not where you want to save money. A slightly bigger boat would’ve made our time on the water a lot more pleasant. And that’s coming from a girl who’s spent a lot of summers on a boat and does not get seasick easily. I should’ve gone with my husband’s splurge on that one! Live and learn.

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Capri…

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Most boat tours will take you to Capri. Packed to the gills with tourists and people trying to sell you every kind of thing down by the water, so it wasn’t my favorite. But it’s one of those places you feel like you have to see if you’re there. Lots of high end Italian shopping for those who enjoy that kind of thing. I’m more of a beauty hunter than a beauty buyer, so I didn’t purchase a thing.

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Not our boat, but those are my people!

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The highlight of the boat trip: a long lunch at Conca del Sogno. The food was delicious! The best fried calamari and fired zucchini I’ve ever tasted. {A rare gluten fest for me.} And of course, the tomatoes and mozzarella were heavenly. The wildest part of our lunch was the storm that came right over the mountain and across the water out of nowhere. Glad we weren’t on our little boat at that moment!

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Life on the water: storming one moment, sunshine the next.

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Look at me being the travel guide with all these tips! Pretty funny for a homebody farmgirl. I’m no travel expert, but I hope those tips help you if you ever make it to the Amalfi Coast. And if you don’t make it in this lifetime, I’m betting there’s an even more stunning coastline in heaven! Talk about unspeakable glory! Nothing on this side of heaven compares to the glory that’s awaiting us.

For the love of beauty,

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P.S. If you’re wondering where my people are in all these photos, I’ve got those tucked away for a post of their own…if they don’t mind me sharing in one final post. My people are my favorite part!

 

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  • CAM - My dream place to visit someday – Positano!!! Have a creased travel magazine photo from years ago that I can’t bear to throw away. You captured it in your photos. Thanks!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lorri - The Almalfi Coast has been on my bucket list for a long time!

    I’m curious about the curvy roads though. I live in the Appalachians. Are the roads more curvy than here?ReplyCancel

    • Alisha - Check out a Google street view of the roads, it looks pretty insane:)ReplyCancel

  • Alisha - Beautiful photos! I’ve always wanted to travel to Italy, thanks for sharing parts of your trip:)

    AlishaReplyCancel

  • A Family Trip To Italy | The Beauty of My People » Bravehearted Beauty - […] God’s eyes, it would take our breath away. Even more so than the dramatic coastline of Positano. You are that […]ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Have loved your posts on your trip, but this was my favorite. Planning to save it, as I would love to make the trip to Positano. Thank you for all the tips, etc. I lived in Italy when I was in 8th grade (over 40 years ago) but never visited this area. Your pictures make me want to plan a trip for next summer!ReplyCancel

One of the ways I stay engaged and present in everyday life is by noticing the details. As I walked the narrow streets of Florence and wandered through a handful of medieval hilltop villages, I paid particular attention to the doors, windows and architectural ornaments. Such artistry! For me, beauty hunting is better than shopping. The photos are my take-home treasures…and gifts I get to share with you!

Enjoy the beauty in the details.

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Peer though the window to see what really caught my eye:

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So ornate for an apartment!

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A Bravehearted Beauty crest?

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Do they have any idea how valuable these old doors would be here?

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You could do an entire book on knobs and knockers.

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The door to the apartment my parents rented…

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This door looks modern compared to most…

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Talk about rustic elegance…

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I’m always drawn to simple iron work.

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Every Italian tourist needs one of these shots…

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{Can you imagine hundreds of people photographing your laundry?}

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Beauty hunting takes the boredom out of waiting for a train…

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 And who can resist a solo red poppy hidden in the grasses?

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I’m pretty sure you could take me anywhere and I’d find beauty, but in some places, it’s everywhere you turn…to the point that you can glaze over after awhile. Focusing on the details helps you take it all in a little more deeply. And where beauty is limited, looking for hidden beauty brings new perspective on what otherwise seems barren or boring. Try hunting for the details and see for yourself!

Blessings and peace to you,

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P.S. On the home front, I’m feeling deeply sad about what happened in Charleston. It deserves so much more than a post script, but when I’m deeply sad, I’m usually very quiet. Praying that light will shine through the darkness.

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  • CAM - Thanks for the most amazing pictures!!! I was there long enough ago that those vivid images are fading in my memory. Love your pics. Keep them coming. The beauty is speaking to my heart!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - Your pictures are absolutely amazing.ReplyCancel

  • Catherine - Your photos of Italy are gorgeous! So much beauty that I’m sure it was an easy job to “find the beauty” Thank you for sharing your talent and words!ReplyCancel

The hardest thing about beauty hunting in an extravagantly beautiful place is choosing your favorite images after the hunt. I think I’ve finally done it! I started with 1200 images and am down to 800, with about 100 of those selected for sharing. Sometimes I miss the film days. We were more selective about our shots. Kind of like an archer with limited arrows. {It may surprise you to know that even the best photographers got only one or two really great shots out of every roll. No one hits the bullseye every time.}

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Today’s beauty was captured in small Tuscan villages, all day trips from Florence. I love the medieval hilltop towns that dot the Tuscan countryside. While Florence has lots to offer, I was happiest when we were rolling through green, open spaces. After 37 years of living in the heart of a big city, it turns out I’m really a country girl at heart. {Note: quaint and charming as they are, all of these tiny walled villages were packed with tourists. It’s a challenge to capture beauty with all those people and their selfie sticks!}

Cortona:

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The same flag throwing festival you’ll see in “Under The Tuscan Sun.”

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Monteriggioni and San Gimignano:

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My favorite: a private chianti tasting, tour and lunch at Fattoria Tregole.

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The chapel.

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Can you believe this old beauty was once a working barn?

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I hope some of today’s small town beauty inspires you right where you are. Because at the end of the day, where you are right now is what matters most. And wherever that is, I’m confident that you can find beauty just outside your window…and in the most unexpected places.

With a grateful heart,

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  • Lorri - Great photos! You really captured the place. More please! 😉ReplyCancel

  • Sherry - Absolutely gorgeous! I love all the architecture and wide open green countryside. So excited for you that you were able to take all of it in and experience all that beauty! Thinking of you, as my family will be driving through Nashville in a few days after visiting our daughter in Asheville for the weekend. Any fun places we should stop and check out while we are there?!? My husband has been to the area but I have not, so thought it might be fun to explore a little with our son.ReplyCancel

  • Layne - You take the most beautiful photos. Thanks so much for sharing-I feel like I got to go on a visual vacation!ReplyCancel

  • Gracia @ Gracious Offering - Linsey, beautiful photos of such a lovely country! Makes me want to hop on a plane and go to Italy again. Yes, I am a country girl too. I love to visit cities but have no desire to live there. Looking and searching for beauty today outside my door in what has been a terribly dark season of life. Thank you for your uplifting words.ReplyCancel