On our recent trip to Italy, the leg that I was deliriously excited about was staying in the Tuscan countryside. I must add that all the pictures and the movies that you see do not prepare you for the pristine beauty that lies before you. The Rolling Hills are sheer poetry and you actually feel that you are in a Renaissance painting. No matter which way you glance it’s a valley of green. It is not an experience that leaves you for a long time. The splendor of this memory keeps revisiting, urging me to make plans to go back.
In this blog, I am sharing experiences which could help you if you are planning a trip to this piece of paradise.
We chose to stay at Castello Vicchiomaggio. What made our decision really easy was was the infinity pool that looked over the tuscan hills, had a winery, one of the best agri turismo places in tuscany and had a lot of history. The estate is managed by John Matta and his family – It is pristine, impeccable and has a personal touch. We were interacting with Federica and Delfina who are his daughters and they helped us while we were making our bookings, answering our questions and were beyond helpful when we reached there. The property has historical significance because of it’s location, it was crucial to defense because of it’s location. Played host to Da Vinci in it’s time the Castle has been restored in the 1960s.
It was also a natural and convenient choice. Because my husband and I were not driving in Italy and using public transport most of the time. The only time we took a cab was in Portofino, and once to come back to our hotel from Greve in Chianti. This is an ideal destination for non-drivers. We took a bus from Florence and reached Le Bolle in about an hour. The tasting room of the winery is on the highway and opposite to the bus station. We just had to get to the shop and call Federica and she would come pick us up. She was down in a few minutes. You must note that their kitchen is open only at certain times and days after breakfast.However, helpful Delfina got us some yummy sandwiches, which we ate before our swim. We mad reservations for all our meals in advance, specifying that I am vegetarian. .
While the pool for us was the deal maker, our lovely cottage overlooking the valley turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Our bedroom with a sit out was on the first floor and on the ground floor was a living room and open kitchen. A great option for those who want to cook while on holiday as well. Considering they don’t have service for every meal, it is really required. They also ensure that you leave it clean, because they mentioned that if the kitchen was dirty when they came in, they would clean it, but charge you 100 euros. We were paranoid and left it spic and span after every cup of coffee.
They do tours of their winery along with lunch and a wine tasting session. They have won Italian Wine Maker of the Year several times so yes, you are making a fantastic choice for sure. They do a complete tour of the vineyards and also show you the massive wine barrels. For a wine connoisseur it is a delight. Personally I wanted to get to the luneh and tasting part. Of course the wine tasting session was a heady one, we tasted 4 estate wines.My favorite was the Vin Santo. A dessert wine that you have with biscottis that the region is very very famous for.
We also did a quick trip to the little village of Greve. My recommendation is to time it with a meal. We took a bus that leaves from le bolle and gets to the village of Greve. San Gimignano, Montefeuiralle are very close if you are in the region for a while. We were there only 2 and a half days so only went to Greve. It is a quaint town, but a sleepy one. We had dinner at La Cantina, one of the best restaurants in Greve. We had a delightful meal and free Prosecco and Dessert. Watch out for Alessandro, the owner of the restaurant who is likely to give you a fistbump as you enter his restaurant.
The food is phenomenal through out Italy and it continues to tantalise here too. Florence and Tuscany undoubtedly has great food. As with Italian food, it is extremely kind to vegetarians. A speciality of this region however is the wild boar, which my husband seemed to enjoy.
Our best Croissants this trip were had here. I also loved the Florentine Schiacciata, flavored with orange zest and olive oil. Be warned the bread in this region has a certain dampness and No salt. Yes, when you dive in to the bread basket waiting for your meal to arrive be prepared for the bread with no salt. Apparently during the middle ages a salt tax was levied and they stopped using it then, and tuscan bread continues to be bakes with out salt.
Tuscany, while it is cliched to say – is a feast for the senses. While the sights delight, the cuisine leaves you equally spell bound. All in All, it’s the kind of place that’s going to lure you back like a greek Siren. I hope you enjoy your Tuscan Holiday when you go on it, I would love to hear more about it.