Tuscany – where one can never have too much Chianti Classico, fresh pasta and gelato. Such a simple concept but every town, village and city of the Tuscan region has something unique. A full carafe of good wine for 8 euros, pasta that melts in the mouth, idyllic vineyards and scenery that never ceases to amaze. We hired a small farmhouse with a pool which formed part of a vineyard in Cavriglia, a small town in the Chianti region. Hiring a car is a must but beware of the local drivers! Here are the highlights of our 5 day trip… cannot wait to return to experience the rest! [Shails]
- Cavriglia – Val di Prulli Villa via http://www.to-tuscany.com/ A range of Tuscan villas in various locations around the region. Usually works out cheaper for a 1 week stay.
- Siena – Palazzo Ravizza Hotel http://www.palazzoravizza.it/ Ideal location, 10min walk to the city centre with beautiful views of the countryside and garden.
- San Gimigano – I Coppi B&B http://www.icoppi.com/en/index.html Views to die for at this cute family run B&B.
A beautiful town in the Chianti region, be sure to visit the peculiar shaped piazza and the shops in its perimeter. We started our day visiting the Verrazzano Winery, followed by lunch in the piazza and finished off with our cooking lesson. Panzanno is a town close by which is also worth a visit with its ancient city streets.
[DO/DRINK] Verrazzano Winery – A visit to Tuscany would not be complete without wine tasting. This particular vineyard does them on a large scale and is not the most intimate experience but the visit is worth it for the beautiful grounds and the tasting plate you get after the tour, it is a meal in itself! Be sure to try their divine balsamic vinegar which is probably bought more than the wine itself. Book in advance at http://www.verrazzano.com/en/
[DO] Cooking Class – After gorging on all the delicious pasta around the region we figured we should return with some useful skills so we signed up for a 3 hour cooking class followed by a feasting session with unlimited wine. This experience encouraged us to buy our very own pasta maker, fresh pasta really does taste so much better! http://www.itcooking.com/contatti.html
[SHOP] For all your designer needs, the equivalent of Bicester / Woodbury Common is The Mall. Designers including Prada, Toda, Moncler, Diorhttp://www.themall.it/en/outlet-italy/homepage.html
One of my favourite towns to wander through for a spot of lunch. Can be done in half a day and finish off with a visit to some local wineries or a visit to Volpaia.
[EAT] La Botte di Bacco – This was one of our top 3 meals on Italy, typical regional dishes made in a creative way and perfectly executed. http://www.ristorantelabottedibacco.it/
[DO] Walk around the large walls that enclose this beautiful medieval town and wander through the shops for local produce as you burn of the lunch.
[DO/DRINK] Casanova Di Ama winery – this a small family run vineyard in the heart of Chianti. We were welcomed by the lady owner herself who was extremely friendly and knowledgeable. If you buy a bottle of wine the cost of the small tasting fee (€7) is free! http://www.agrariacasanuovadiama.it/web/index.cfm?id=C563CA01-0AC0-117B-8EFD95292C6C9CC7
Another beautiful winery close by just north of Radda is Castello di Volpaia, an old castle that has been renovated. Small fee for the tour of €6. The winery has a restaurant attached and a shop full of wine and olive oil.
Siena is a must visit city if in Tuscany taking you back into the Middle Ages. Beautiful sights set on several hills so except some climbing, the main sights however are quite close together. Siena can definitely be covered in one full day by just lounging in the Piazza del Campo with a glass of wine and gelato. Siena is also host to a famous horse race twice a year – Palio di Siena – which attracts a host of spectators around the world (also featured in Bond – Quantam of Solace)
[SEE] The magnificent Cathedral – Duomo of Siena with incredible stone mosaic floors and beautiful architecture.
[EAT] Osteria La Chiacchera – a great traditional and cheap Tuscan restaurant on a slant – a quiet street just off the square. Try the Pici pasta and the hearty Tuscan bean soup, Ribollita. http://www.osterialachiacchera.it/
La Taverna di San Giuseppe – not cheap but definitely worth the gastronomic experience, everything is cooked perfectly, great service and even better food. Book in advance http://www.tavernasangiuseppe.it/
Antica Osteria da Divo – Spectacular, romantic dining in a historic cellar, and the food matches the beautiful ambience. Do book in advance. http://www.osteriadadivo.it/
These together can be seen in 1 day. Head to the famous leaning tower at the Piazza del Miracoli in the morning and after a spot of lunch head onto Lucca. Lucca is a small city enclosed within huge Renaissance walls, rent a bicycle to explore or stroll along the walls.
[EAT/DRINK] The Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a peculiar oval-shaped Piazza which is a great spot to people watch and grab a bite.
[DO] Climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower in Lucca for some amazing views of the city.