— Life —


THE VIEW OF TUSCANY FROM OUR VILLA All Photographs ©Brenda Coffee, 2017
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My recent trip to Italy was the best trip I’ve taken in a long time. Perhaps it was because my traveling companions were women approximately my age. Whether we talked about cultural references, age-related issues we’re all facing, or went gaga over the scenery, this group of women was an easy-going sisterhood.

Next September, 2018, my friend and professional guide, and I are talking about a 1010 Park Place trip to Tuscany! Are you interested in coming with us?

My friend, and fellow over 50 woman from the Texas Hill Country, has been taking women on trips to Europe for years. She has friends in most every little Tuscan town you can think of whether they’re a cheesemaker or owners of restaurants, art galleries, pottery studios or quaint shops. She also knows the best places to find gelato, how to navigate the backroads of Tuscany, and she’s unflappable and joyous day after day. If that isn’t enough, she’s a gourmet cook who makes entertaining and cooking dinner each day look easy.


Every night the eight of us would return to our villa for dinner and dessert and to share our purchases and adventures of the day. Some of us would light a fire in the fireplace, while others would set up the bar with wine, prosecco, blood orange juice and vodka, make antipasto plates or help our “fearless leader” get dinner on the table. We had two rules: no discussing politics or religion, and those who didn’t help with dinner, help clean up.


Other than my solo adventure to see the Rolling Stones, this was the first trip I’ve taken where I could just “be and enjoy.” I wasn’t working hard at an athletic sport like snow skiing, scuba diving or digging for buried treasure in the Caribbean Ocean or the jungles of Mexico. I just relaxed and enjoyed the company of my fellow women travelers. I ate gelato and pasta on a daily basis, picked fresh figs from the tree in our backyard and ate them on the spot, wandered the back streets of tiny Tuscan towns, absorbed art and culture and indulged myself in fantasies of living there part time. I even made two Italian friends, one of whom is coming to San Antonio next month!

Every minute of every day was a visual and culinary feast.


One of the best things about our trip was traveling through rolling, Tuscan hills filled with grape and olive vineyards and centuries old castles and villas. The walls of the old villas looked like they’d been washed with a mix of sun colored crayons that had melted in the afternoon sun. Other than two days in Florence (some of us met there five days earlier than that) the only places we stopped were the small Tuscan towns. I’m a country girl at heart, so it was refreshing to reconnect with nature and not have anything more pressing to do than decide what to eat for lunch.


My time in Italy has rebooted my hard drive. I came home with a renewed sense of wanting to seize every day, embrace my friends and gather around a table filled with great food, good music and everyone’s best interests at heart.

I can’t wait to return, again, next year, and I hope you’ll come with me!

If you’re interested, other than me and our “fearless leader,” we only have room for six other women, so email me at [email protected] for further information!

Love, Brenda


  • Dr. Margaret Rutherford October 14, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Love the pictures Brenda as we just returned from Italy ourselves! Wasn’t Siena’s story incredible? I’m glad you had such a wonderful time. Italy is a gracious and fabulous place — we’re going back as well!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 9:42 am

      Hi Margaret, Italy may be my favorite place. The Italians have such joy and are so welcoming. So many places I’d like to visit in Italy like Positano and Cinque Terre! Always happy to see you here, Brenda

  • Lisa Froman October 14, 2017 at 8:40 am

    What a beautiful trip! So tempting!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Hi Lisa, It was so much fun! This has been a difficult year: I moved, have been remodeling my house, had to put both of my beloved dogs to sleep, a few months later I adopted two, eight-week-old puppies….. Tho my stars! What an unruly handful. I was ready to do something for me. I left for Italy and put them in “boarding school.” I came back a new woman to discover well-behaved dogs! Life is good, again! Just what I needed. Would love to have you join us! Brenda

  • Elaine Ambrose October 14, 2017 at 9:27 am

    This sounds wonderful. I love the Tuscany region and want to return. Please keep us informed.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Hi Elaine, If you’re interested in coming with us, please let me know ASAP as my friend fills up her trips a year in advance. She’s booking now! Thanks, Brenda

  • Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com October 14, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Hi Brenda! I love, love LOVE Italy and your photos brought back wonderful memories for sure. Your retreat sounds amazing and anyone would be fortunate to go along. ~Kathy

    • 1010ParkPlace.com October 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Hi Kathy, I’d been to Italy twice before, but on rushed, mission-driven trips, never to just “be and enjoy.” It was transformative. I’m so happy you’ve liked my photos. Thank you, Brenda

  • Anita Irlen October 14, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Love all things Italy, thinking about this really hard! Really hard.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 14, 2017 at 10:41 am

      Hi Anita, This was the most amazing trip! I filled-up my depleted wells, made wonderful friends and can’t imagine not having shared this with these great women. I’d love to have you come with us! If you’re interested, please let me know ASAP as my friend fills up her trips a year in advance. She’s booking now! xoxox, Brenda

  • LA CONTESSA October 14, 2017 at 10:58 am

    SOUNDS WONDERFUL……….but I think I have booked a spot to ENGLAND that month!XX

    • 1010ParkPlace October 15, 2017 at 10:40 am

      Elizabeth, How fun! A garden tour perhaps? You will be missed! xoxox, Brenda

  • Michaele Hall October 14, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Brenda, your trip sounds amazingly wonderful. I am enjoying your photos and dialogue and wish I had been there with you! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to join you next time, however, I fervently hope that you keep planning more trips so that I may join you. BTW…where in the world did those sunglasses in the last photo come from? They are to die for! M

    • 1010ParkPlace October 15, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Hi Michaele, Aren’t those glasses cool? They belong to one of the other women on the trip. The brand is Face à Face. They make great glasses. I bought one of their very avant guard sunglasses about 10 years ago. Just loved them! I looked these up on their website, and they have several styles and colors. They’re the “Bocca Optical.” Hope we can take a trip together sometime, Brenda

  • Suzanne Fluhr October 15, 2017 at 12:19 am

    If you’d like to publish a post about your trips to Italy on the Midlife Boulevard blog, I’d be happy to help, but it doesn’t look like you need any help with publicity for your next trip. I’ve never been on anything but a short all women trip. It looks like my husband and I will make it back to Italy next year. I’m looking forward to it.

    • 1010ParkPlace October 15, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Hi Suzanne, I read your bio on your site and like me, you’ve always had a wanderlust. Thanks for the Midlife Blvd offer. I do post on their FB group and went to two of their conferences. Met so many terrific women with whom I’ve remained friends. Brenda

  • Diane October 15, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Perfect! Wouldn’t I just LOVE to join you!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 15, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Hi Diane, And I’d just love to have you come with us! Two ranch girls in Tuscany! If there’s anyway you can, let me know. xoxox, Brenda

    • Brenda Coffee October 19, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Hi Diane, If you’re serious about joining us in Italy next year, please email me at the address at the bottom of my post so I can send you some information. Thanks! Brenda

  • Laura Lee Carter October 15, 2017 at 11:42 am

    It all sound perfect to me, but the next time I visit Italy it will be to share it with my husband, at the top of my bucket list!

    • 1010ParkPlace October 16, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      Yes Laura! Go with your husband and make wonderful memories together! Six of the eight of us were single so this was a great way to come together and share it with someone. I loved everything about my time in Italy. The Italians have a joyous zest for life I haven’t seen in other countries. Brenda

  • Jen October 18, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Looks like heaven. Timing is always tough with the kids but 6 years from now, I’m in!

    • Brenda Coffee October 19, 2017 at 10:22 am

      LOL! There’s always something, isn’t there, Jen? xoxox, B

  • Gaylynn Hierholzer October 18, 2017 at 8:09 am

    I also loved my time in this place…..pure heaven! So pure, so peaceful, so powerful! Late September was the perfect time to visit Tuscany. I traveled there with 6 other wonderful women. We returned to “reality” a couple weeks ago but I am ready to return to Italy (specifically La Foce) at any moment.

    • Brenda Coffee October 19, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Hi Gaylynn, If you’re interested in knowing more, please email me at the address in the bottom of my post, and I’ll send you something. Thanks, Brenda

  • Arabella Williams October 22, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Ciao Brenda,

    I sent an email over this weekend. I would very much love to be a part of your group of 10! I adore Italy, the last I visited was several years ago. With the untimely death of my darling husband 4 years ago, travel came to a halt. I’ve declared 2018, to return to travel and hope to join you.

    • 1010ParkPlace.com October 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Arabella, I’m sorry to hear about your husband. Mine died, unexpectedly, on Christmas Day. This Christmas it will be seven years ago. Everything about our lives changes in some way, and we must figure out how to move forward and grab ahold of life again. It’s not easy, is it? I saw your email and will respond as soon as I post this comment. FYI, there will only be six of us, plus me and our “fearless leader,” for a total of eight. Thanks so much for your interest, Brenda

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