Tuscany we have arrived!
We took a train from Rome to Orvieto. The plan we set up was to rent a car from Hertz when we arrived in Orvieto to drive to our villa in Ponzano, a small town in the center of Tuscany. Unfortunately, the Hertz was closed since it was a Sunday (even though when we made the reservation they assured us that someone would be meeting us to open.) So, plan B went into action. We decided to spend the night in Orvieto since we were stranded till the next morning without a car and no other way to get to our next destination.
It turned out to be a beautiful city! The streets were perfumed with the scent of jasmine flowers and fresh rain. We saw the Duomo, listened to musical prayer in a cathedral and of course, drank a spritz and shared a pizza.
The next morning we were able to rent a Fiat500 and continued back on our schedule to the Tuscan countryside.
We decided to stop in Siena on our way to the Air B&B villa.
Unfortunately, it was blazing hot so we decided to leave shortly after we arrived and continued on our way. There is nothing like driving through Tuscany. Every turn you take has yet another backdrop of pure beauty. Vast green hills covered in endless grape vines with stunning homes that look like castles from the texts you read in history class in high school.
Thank god for this GPS map app that we downloaded for each country we visited called ‘navmii’. Since we didn’t have cell service this app with preloaded routes and maps led us to each of our destinations. We would have been completely lost without it.
When we arrived at the villa we were welcomed by a Pakistani British man, Andrew, and his italian wife, Alba. She handed us an orange liquor drink and an Italian wedding cookie that melted in our mouths (ya know, since we haven’t eaten enough 😉
They graciously sat with us for nearly two hours learning about one another and assisted us in planning our next few days in the Tuscan Chianti region.
The villa was exactly what we needed! A comfortable place to set up for the next few days.
During one of our days in Tuscany we drove to Greve in Chianti, a cute little town famous for their wine and meat/cheese shops.
When it was dinner time I ordered an item off the menu since we had been waiting to try it since we arrived in Italy.
Pasta carbonara. Utterly delicious. Carb loading at its finest.On another day of our stay we drove to Florence, better known here as ‘Firenze’.
After we parked the car, we bee lined for the Academia Gallery that houses the famous sculpture of David by Michaelangelo. It was worth the 1.5 hour wait in line. We obviously got a snack to pass the time.
As we walked back to our car on the Ponte Vecchio bridge, Giada De Laurentis was walking with her daughter, sister and bodyguard. I was dying to meet her so we followed her and she stopped to give her daughter her phone. It was my chance to meet her, but I just couldn’t do it. I could tell she was trying to fit in as a local and I did not want to make a big scene. In another life… P.s. she is even prettier in person than she is on her cooking show.
Next stop, wining up in Tuscany.
Later in the afternoon we scheduled a wine tasting at a vineyard. *** Side note: You have to make reservations at most of the wineries here, unlike the walk-in availability at the wineries in California. Plan accordingly if you hope to go vineyard hopping in Italy. Since the wineries in Italy are so spread out due to the landscape, we decided to visit only one. Lucky for us, this one was amazing.
After searching in the rain up and down the gravely hills, Guilia welcomed us upon our arrival at Casa Emma, a huge winery that is prominent for their wines, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We sampled 4 wines, each with their own unique flavor and reason for drinking. Guilia explained that their Sangiovese reserve should be paired with food, such as a steak or bowl of pasta, their rose’ is best served on a hot summer day, while their merlot is considered their ‘meditation wine’ as it can be drank with or without food and used to sip on and relax. She taught us that the black rooster emblem found all over Tuscany is the symbol for the Chianti Classico region. Any bottle with ‘D.O.C.G.’ written on it marks that this is a genuine Chianti Classico. She told us that in order to be considered a Chianti Classico, the wine needs to have a minimum of 80% Sangiovese grape. My favorite wine was the 100% merlot and Adam loved the milder Chianti Classico.
Later that evening we set out to the local restaurant to eat the famous florentine steak. It’s called the ‘4 finger steak’ since it’s about 4 fingers thick. We asked that the steak be cooked medium, but the server explained that they only prepare this type of steak one way, rare-medium rare. Typically, at home eating rare meat can be sketchy since you don’t always know where your food comes from, but since the cows are raised in the hills nearby, we figured it would be safe. For our first course we shared a spinach ricotta ravioli covered in a meat sauce followed by our steak. It was a serious yum fest.
During our final half day in Italy, we drove to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. We took a few snaps…
…and on our way to London we go!