Monday, September 5, 2011

A weekend in Tuscany

What better way to spend Labor Day weekend than in Tuscany? More specifically, Sienna and San Gimignano. I don't even know where to begin... it is so beautiful. We booked a room at Hotel Sovestro, a pet friendly establishment in San Gimignano. Of course we brought Maya with us, and although she was absolutely fine I think it's time to cut the cord and just place her in a boarding facility (for the record, we have no problem doing this in the States, but the boarding places here aren't the greatest, which is why we're just a little hesitant). Que sera sera... or as the Italians would say, "qualunque sarĂ  sarĂ ".

Running towards Jon at the end of a walk.

We started out Saturday morning taking a drive to Sienna, which was only about 30 minutes away. A cute quaint town, it has that old European feel to it with the narrow cobblestone streets and tall stone buildings. The Piazza del Campo is the main area where one can sit and watch the world go by. This is also where they hold the city's horse races in the summer.

Piazza del Campo from above.
Piazza from a little higher up.
Torre del Mangia

We climbed the Torre del Mangia, a tower that was built in 1338-1348 and can be seen from all points in Sienna. It consists of tiny, narrow steps going up in a circular fashion, which came to be quite a challenge! After about a 10 minute climb we were welcomed with breathtaking views of the city and beyond. Afterwards, we walked around for a while and stopped in a pizzeria off of the main area to have lunch and much needed water!
That's a long way up!
More of Sienna.
The Duomo in Sienna.
We also saw the small town of San Gimignano, which was only about 5 minutes from our hotel. This is a walled medieval hill town best known for its architecture, especially its towers. We had two excellent meals here that consisted of real Tuscan cuisine... much different than the Neapolitan cuisine we've been eating. Tuscan food is more hearty, meaty, and cheesy, while food in Naples focuses on seafood with light sauces. Among the food we had here was wild boar (which tasted like brisket), prosciutto with figs (figs may become my new obsession, amazingly good), rabbit, and gnocchi with truffles. Yum!
A delicious meal out.
Prosciutto and figs.

Some of the towers.

Food and wine.
Sunday was our wine tasting day. Jon booked reservations at Tenuta Torciano for a private wine tasting. It is a family owned winery consisting of 13 generations of wine producers. When we walked in there was a huge table set for two with 10 wine glasses in front of each plate. Included in our taste was a 3 course lunch with ten tastings to complement the food. As Pierluigi, our wine connoisseur, poured each glass he explained the proper wine tasting technique and gave a description of the grapes used and the aging process.  The huge goblets were filled almost halfway for us to taste. It took us the whole two hours to finish it all! At the end he even said, "Take your time and pour yourselves more of the wine if you want". Needless to say, Jon and I were a little giddy when we left. At least we had the food to help offset some of the alcohol. I won't go into every detail of the food served, but just know that his sister made all of the dishes for us using his grandmother's recipes and they were like spoonfuls of heaven! All in all, we ended up buying 11 bottles of wine, 1 balsamic vinegar, and 1 white truffle olive oil. I would recommend this winery to anyone visiting the area. Not only for the delicious wine and food, but because of their hospitality... it was so welcoming. We felt like visitors in their home and it was just perfect. It's an experience we will always remember and cherish.

Practicing my skills.
Jon practicing his skills.

A great day!


  1. WOW! You guys have really raised the bar. What a great time you had. Can't wait to hear more about it in person. Cheryl your writing skills are terrific. You really have a knack for it.

  2. What a wonderful time you guys had. 10 glasses? I'd be under the table after 2. Lol. See you soon to continue your explorations of Italy.

  3. Sounds incredible! There is really no good wine here, we are going through withdrawl! I have a couple recipes with white truffle oil on the blog, they are hard to find! :)

  4. I want to go to Tuscany!! The pictures are absolutely beautiful and I know why you guys had a fantastic time! I could see that Maya had fun too!!