Italy and wine go hand in hand. You can't leave the country without tasting at least one glass of wine. The best way to get a sampling of what Italy has to offer is, in my opinion, by going on a wine tour. There are many options out there but after reading rave reviews, I decided to book through Chianti Wine Tour. The half-day trip to San Gimignano was without a doubt, one of the highlights of our entire vacation.
We gathered at a meeting point at 9 am in Florence and took a private bus to the first winery. Chianti Wine Tour guarantees smaller groups to allow a better experience. Our group only had a total of 6 individuals, the perfect number.
The first winery we visited was Fattoria Poggio Alloro, named after the bay leaves that grew in the front yard. If I come back to Tuscany, I would love to stay at Fattoria and dine in their kitchen where all of their produce is grown in-house. They even pick their own saffron, raise their own cattle and pigs and bottle their own olive oil. After touring the facility, we had the opportunity to taste 5 different wines including their Chianti Reserve and white wine. The trip was already off to a great start.
After we concluded our visit, we hopped back on the bus and drove 20 minutes to the small town, San Gimignano. San Gimignano is encircled by 13th-century walls with a skyline of medieval towers.
A walk through the town takes you back in time as you soak in the surroundings. There is a gelato store the tour usually takes you to, voted as one of the best in Italy. Unfortunately, since we were there during the holidays, the store was closed.
There are several butcheries, cheese stores as well as souvenir shops where you can purchase gifts for your friends or just yourself. Because San Gimignano is such an old town, there aren't many locals around.
Walk down a small alley and find yourself at an amazing viewpoint of Tuscany. To say I took a couple of pictures would be an understatement. The great thing about Tuscany is that even in December, the hills are lush with greenery.
It was finally time to head to the second winery, Tenuto Torciano. Tenuto was much larger than Fattoria Poggio Alloro with distributions located even in the States. Even so, we still had the attention of the owner who gave us the 101 on how to hold a wine glass and asses the wine. Who knew that I have been holding wine glasses wrong my entire adult life?
We were served a delightful 3-course meal along with a 6 glass wine tasting. Our meal started with a charcuterie plate followed a rich hearty bowl of ribolita.
The main entree was an amazing lasagna finished with white truffle oil. Everyone around the table was unanimous in that the food was spectacular. To make the experience even more special, the owner at Tenuto was kind enough to offer us a complimentary glass of spumante with biscotti, the perfect ending to the day.
And that concluded our half-day wine tour. I believe Chianti Wine Tour normally takes the group to one last viewpoint on the way back to Florence; however, it was raining heavily on the day I went so we skipped the last stop. Another bonus? The tour guide had a great playlist, hitting all the classics to make our drive even more enjoyable than it already was.
Chianti Wine Tour also offers other activities including horseback riding and cooking classes. I have heard wonderful reviews about their cooking classes; perhaps next time!
That takes us around Florence in a short 4 days. If you do have extra time, I do recommend taking a train and visiting other cities nearby. Bologna is only an hour ride away and has amazing restaurants.
Find a restaurant and sit down to more charcuterie (because honestly, you can never have enough cheese and charcuterie).
Try bolognese pasta and dig in. Another favorite was the tortellini in brodo, a dish that I only saw in Tuscany.
If you want to experience a different environment, visit Modena. Modena is coming up in the food world while producing the best balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese. Next up, I will share details of my experience at Antica Moka, a Michelin star restaurant located in Modena.
Next up: Antica Moka