We’ll meet at Rome’s Fiumicino airport at noon and board our lux ride and shimmy up the Tyrrhenian coast then turn inland just south of Siena. Our agriturismo is in the hinterlands of Tuscany, a vineyard paradise complete with pool and vegetable garden; and our tranquility base for the duration of the trip. No unpacking bags each night, no click-click of the roller boards on cobblestone streets, just us, the flora and the fauna; home sweet Tuscan home. After settling into our rooms, we’ll enjoy a welcome lunch al fresco under the Tuscan sun to soak in lots of Vitamin D to stave off jet lag. Oh, and some Vitamin V (for vino) to entice maybe a light nap before we wander off to check out the local area and have an early brick oven pizza dinner.
After breakfast we’ll head to San Gimignano and scale to the Rocca at the towns highest point – once a defense against invaders, now the point of pride to show off the lovely Vernaccia wines of the area. We’ll get a full explanation in the Rocca’s interactive museum and settle in for a master class to sample the wines, cheeses and salumi that are the pride of San Gimignano. Later that evening, we’ll go to our first sagra – a local festival, this one in the nearby town of Paganico and dedicated to frogs legs… but with plenty of other yummy choices including pastas, grilled sausages, ribs, Tuscan beans and more. Did we mention wine and beer too?
Today we’ll take a leisurely and informative guided walking tour of this ancient town that began its existence as a Roman trading post. A real jewel box of a city, Siena’s Duomo was supposed to be the largest in Christendom until work was ‘temporarily’ suspended by the plague in the 1400s… The famous tower of city hall looms over the picturesque Campo where twice each year the city’s neighborhoods vie for the coveted Palio in a perverse medieval combination of pageantry, sport and local rivalries. We’ll slide under the shadows of a back alley to a former apothecary turned restaurant will host us for a guided tasting of Tuscany’s proudest red wines accompanied by a light lunch. Then it’s back to our farmhouse for dinner.
It’s about time we work for our lunch… as long as that means pitching in and learning a bit from a local chef in the context of a Montalcino vineyard estate! After lunch that we helped prepare, we’ll embark on a walking tour of the sleepy town of Montalcino and enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurants that tourists are never really directed to.
Abbadia San Salvatore
’My baby takes the morning train,’ and so will we – though this being an old fashioned steam train and chug-chug-chug our way through unspoiled Tuscan countryside and up an extinct volcano to the town of Monte Amiata Scalo. We’ll check out a local abbey with hidden treasures, and then hop our wheels for lunch in nearby Montenero – never heard of it? Good! That’s why we’re going there! It’s back to the agriturismo to relax for the evening.
Today we’ll have a leisurely morning on “our” estate and after a vineyard lunch we head back up to Monte Amiata to experience another Sagra, this one in the teeny town of Monticello Amiata. Good luck finding another tourist…
Today we’ll visit a sheep farm and learn about cheese making. Afterward, we’ll enjoy a hearty lunch before we return to the agriturismo and tonight, we’ll enjoy a farmhouse dinner.
Off to Chianti! Today we’ll visit the Cecchi winery on their beautiful estate in the Chianti region. Afterward we’ll enjoy lunch in Roselle and on our way back, stop in Grosseto to see the sights and maybe do a little shopping.
Dario Cecchini is the world famous master butcher of Panzano, famous as the man who saved La Bistecca Fiorentina from the mad cow mania of decades ago. We’ll check out his shop in the center of town, a beehive of activity, then roll into his Oficina della Bistecca, or ‘beef workshop,’ to forge bonds of camaraderie at his communal tables. Don’t be surprised if we finish with a ‘street grappa. We’ll swim it all off – or sleep it all off – back at the villa.
Our last day ends with a visit to a local icon and symbol of combining Italian tradition with American ingenuity – the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino. We’ll take a guided tour and enjoy a tasting at this, one of Italy’s most prestigious and award winning wineries, before repairing to the nearby hilltop town of Sant’Angelo Scalo – population 65. We will take over a good chunk of the main piazza to dine al fresco on traditional dishes made with love and served with passion. Tonight we gather once more around our home fire for our farewell dinner.
Rome FCO Airport
Our time together ends today; after breakfast we’ll hit the road one last time for the trip to Rome’s Fiumicino airport for our return flights. Or, perhaps we’ll part company here if you should decide to remain in Italy. (Your Tour Director can help you arrange transportation from the agriturismo.) Either way, we’ll be bringing home some great memories and new friendships. Arrivederci and we hope to see you again soon!