Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Last Trip to Tuscany

Since the first weekend trip we took when we arrived to Italy was to Tuscany, we think it's very fitting that our last trip during our time here was also to this region. This was our fifth trip to Tuscany so we decided to hit a favorite city of ours first, Florence, and then move on to towns that we hadn't seen before - Pienza, Montepulciano, & Montalcino.

The drive to Florence took us just over four hours. Since we have been to this city many times in the past we decided to stay a little outside the city center in a more residential area. We really just wanted to take in the atmosphere of Florence, enjoy the food, and shop at the leather market. We did some damage at the market and we each ended up getting a leather coat... among other things :)

The next morning after breakfast we drove to a very small town outside of Greve in Chianti called Montefioralle (maybe 45 minutes from Florence). There is a small winery here owned by a lovely family. We sat outside in the shade with Fernando, a grandfatherly type, while he poured us tastings from some of his bottles.

After that we drove down to Montalcino and visited San Polo, a winery just outside of the town. The estate prides itself on not only having very good wine, but also because it is very eco-friendly. They are the second winery in the world that has received the CasaClima certification for ecological, environmental, and economic sustainability. The winery is both impressive in design and attention to its surroundings.


Wind tunnels for the cellar below

The natural humidity chamber.
We then drove to Pienza where our agriturismo was located. The agriturismo was situated in such a picturesque setting. High up on a hill with cyprus trees lining the dirt road, we were able to see the countryside for miles and miles. Breakfast was served each morning outside our room, with fresh eggs taken right from the chickens in the coop! It was simply gorgeous and it was the perfect place to end our time here.

View of Pienza from the agriturismo

Our breakfast area

The next day we went to Montepulciano. Montepulciano is a medieval and Renaissance hill town that sits about 2000 feet up. The area is very well-known for its wine and for its regional cuisines including "pici" pasta, lentils, honey, and pork. We walked through the town, climbed the steep hills, and window shopped.

Inside an underground old wine cellar

A sleeping cat
After lunch we went back to the area of Montalcino and went to one more winery. This was a pretty interesting experience as the one who was giving us the tour was giving us tastings directly from the barrels and barriques in order for us to taste different years in the aging process. Another reason we were tasting from the different barrels and barriques is that we were also tasting the differences between the Slovenian oak and the French oak. Even though I wasn't able to taste as much wine as I would have liked (Jon is now drinking for three) I was still able to taste the differences. It was pretty cool!

Pouring directly from the barrel!
Getting samples from the barriques.
We left Pienza around 11am on Sunday morning and started the drive back down to Naples. On the way down we decided to stop in a city named Tivoli, about 18 miles outside of Rome. Just outside the  city is a complex of ancient buildings built in he 2nd century by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Villa Adriana, or Hadrian's villa, consisted of over 30 buildings covering about 250 acres. We were amazed at just how large this complex is - we definitely didn't expect it when we decided to stop by. As impressive as they were, we were done after about 20-30 minutes... after two years of seeing many many many Roman ruins they really all start to look the same and start becoming less spectacular. With a shrug of the shoulders and the words, "Eh, it's more ruins" we called it quits. We hope we haven't become too jaded in our thinking...

Teatro Marittimo

Salla dei Filosofi (Philosopher's Room)

Heliocaminus (Baths)

We could not think of a more serene setting to spend our last weekend in Italy. We tried to take in as much as we could from gobbling on Tuscan specialties like ribollita, pici pasta, and wild boar, drinking the famed wines of the region - Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and driving through the rolling hills and winding roads of the region. We could not have asked for a better end to our time here.

1 comment:

  1. Italy as a whole is filled with postcard views from anywhere! I couldn't help but stare in awe as I toured this gorgeous country last summer. I was particularly astonished by the many beautiful villas in Tuscany Italy which featured marvelous architecture and reflections of traditional Italian culture and history. I recommend going to the UNIESCO heritage site: Villa Medici Poggio a Caiano which was home to the famous Medici family, a powerful royal family during the European renaissance. It is truly a masterpiece!