Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Enjoying Tuscany

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful villages while in Tuscany.
After scouring TripAdvisor, message boards, and the travel guides, I settled on a few (and then added a few more along the way.) Yes, I'm a planner and just hopping in the car with no plan leaves me unsettled. So if I have a few things planned, then I can be a little more flexible and comfortable with just pulling into a parking lot and getting out to explore. I'm getting better, really, I am.

*Note: the links are to the wiki pages, so if you think wiki is 'fake' don't click on the link; however, I find wiki to be quite informative.

Siena - About an hour south of our villa is Siena, a walled-city. We took the south entrance (Porta Tufi) into the city and followed the covered parking signs to Il Campo. I was a little worried about parking and driving (illegally) in the pedestrian areas; however, the signage and parking at Il Campo was probably one of the easiest 'in and out' we've ever encountered.

It was hot. Did I mention how very hot it was in Tuscany? We walked along the pedestrian areas, shopped, went into the Duomo (cathedral), the opera museum, the crypt, the piazza del campo (where the palio horse races are held twice a year)

Volpaia - Volpaia (official website) is another walled-village. I scheduled a tour of the town and a wine tasting for us one afternoon. The town is very, very small and all the buildings are owned by a single family who also owns the Volpaia winery. Most of the residents that live in the town also work for the winery. Our tasting included 4 different wines (1 white and 3 reds) and various infused olive oils. The white, which is not a usual production for the chianti area was quite tasty and the reds (chianti classico and reserve) were also nice.

San Gimignano -San Gimignano is another walled city in Tuscany. Are you sensing a pattern here? Of all the towns, villages, and cities we visited in Tuscany, I think this one was my favorite. On our drive into town (from the north) we saw San Gimignano off in the distance, looking like a walled off ancient medieval city. We were able to find a parking spot just outside the town and then walk up a few flights of step and a small hill to the town. The main street is filled with stores featuring pottery, wines, gelato, spices, and touristy crap. The main square is flanked by a church and then as you look up you see several towers above. Lovely.
And, at Chuck's request, we went to the Torture Museum. In a word...interesting.

Greve in Chianti - We didn't spend much time in Greve in Chianti. It was basically a place to kill some time because we were early for our luncheon at Castello di Verrazzano. But, it was another great little town in Tuscany with shopping, a main square, a wine museum, and of course, wine tasting.

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