Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our Italian Adventures Part Three: Tuscany

Out of all the places we went, Positano was my favorite, but out of ALL the days we were in Italy, our day in Tuscany was by far the best!

Brian had been to Florence on his last trip to Italy, so this go round he was hoping to spend more time in the countryside exploring different wineries. Fortunately, one of his good friends had recently been to Tuscany on his honeymoon and recommended a driver they used for touring around the vineyards. So Brian contacted our soon to be driver, Donatella back in January to get all the dates and details squared away. Fast forward seven months and our Tour of Tuscany had arrived!

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I was a little careless with my wine turned limoncello consumption the night before so the sound of my early morning alarm buzzing in my ear was less than delightful. But, I put my game face on and we headed out the door to meet up with the rest of our group, a single woman from Australia and a couple from outside the Los Angeles area, all of whom would become our best buddies by the end of the day.

We spent the day traveling through the Chianti Classico region, with our first stop being, Solatione. Here we met, Franchi, who runs the winery and vineyard with her brother. It was merely 9:30am and after touring around the vineyard, she treated us to three very generous sized glasses of wine along with some meat, cheese, and bread. It seemed a little early for wine intake, but I remembered I was on vacation (in Italy) and it suddenly just made sense to jump right in.

Franchi seasoning and preparing the wine glasses for our first tasting; gourmet spread of appetizers. 

Here we learned that there are certain rules that must be followed in the Chianti Classico region in order to receive the Chianti Classico sign of approval. These bottles are labeled with the iconic rooster sticker which helps make them easily identifiable when shopping for wines. We also learned about the Super Tuscan, which is a wine made in this area but does not require following all the rules and are typically bolder, richer wines with a higher price tag than the Chianti Classicos. 

Barrels of aging wine, gorgeous hydrangeas everywhere, lots and lots of grapes

Saying goodbye to Franchi and soaking up the last of her beautiful views. 

Our next stop was Altiero where we enjoyed more gorgeous views, saw our first olive tree, and enjoyed a feast of wonderful appetizers including, but not limited to, bruschetta, proscuitto, cheese, and some amazing sausage and cheese crostinis.  

Olive tree; close up picture of the black olives before they are ripe

We had so much fun being treated like royalty by this wonderful family. The wine was spectacular and I can't wait to sip on my souvenir of rosé and dip into my bottle of olive oil.

The next stop on the tour was Renzo Marinai. We continued to enjoy great wine and gorgeous views. I couldn't get over how "we" (Americans) try to recreate the Tuscan Style, and here I was in the middle of it. I had so much fun exploring the homes and taking in all their authentic decor that we mass produce and TRY to recreate. I love that it is all they know. It's what has been passed down from generation to generation. 
I think I could get used to these views

Where are the wine wipes when you need them? 


And then there was lunch....but not just any lunch. We were truly immersed into the Tuscan culture. Grandma prepared several courses, starting with the most amazing lasagna we've ever had. Then it continued with baked tomatoes, chicken wrapped proscuitto, salad and of course wine. We loved learning that wine is enjoyed with EVERY meal as they feel it makes the food taste better, but during mealtimes, Italians drink "table wine" which is less expensive. They save their nicer wine for special occasions. 

We loved seeing all the fresh produce growing around the home. 

This is the part of the day where I decided to play with the functions on my camera and now have some work to do to get this back to its true colors. 

Last but not least we ended the day at Savignola Paolina.

My favorite picture from the whole trip. If I could sit here every day, I bet I would blog more....

....especially with these views.

lots of grapes

Vineyards first bottle of wine; Barrel used to make wine in old days; Device for crushing olives to make olive oil

I'm pretty excited about my olive oil

We couldn't have asked for a better day! We felt truly welcomed into every home we visited. It was always hard to leave each vineyard and move onto the next. The food and wine were both amazing at every place we went. This is a must do experience if you are traveling to Italy. 
Our amazing driver, Donatella. We owe her all the credit for our perfect day!!

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