Ahhh Summer, you're here and we couldn't be more excited to see you. Our favorite part about you? Vacation. A few years ago I spent 3 weeks traveling through Italy and Spain with a friend and I'll never forget the love I felt for Tuscany. Now it may seem cliché, and that everyone goes here...but for good reason. The lush vineyards that flow through the rolling hills are enough to inspire anyone to uproot their life and move a la Diane Lane in Under The Tuscan Sun. On the day we took a guided wine tour of Tuscany I could literally feel myself falling in love with the wine, the views and the inviting families that call the vineyards home. They all had so much pride and passion in their work. Stop #1 - Poggio Amorelli Vineyard of Famiglia Mazzarrini After about an hour drive through the Tuscan country side, we arrive at Poggio Amorelli Vineyard owned by Marco and Adriana Mazzarrini. This is a family business where even 2 of their 3 children work. From vine to bottle, everything embodies the strong Tuscan values of family and tradition. The Poggio Amorelli estate is the heart of the Famiglia Mazzarrini brand, and located in the center of Chianti. Marco led us on a tour of the barrel room and hosted a wonderful wine and cheese pairing, ending with a taste of grappa (whoa). After that, we were given an additional hour to shop, purchase bottles to ship home (I smuggled 2 into my suitcase), and enjoy glasses of wine on the beautiful patio. As you can see, the views were absolutely breathtaking. While sipping prosecco and gazing onto the vineyard covered hills, I felt more at peace than I knew possible. We didn't want to leave this gorgeous winery but it was time to venture to the next!
Stop #2 - Fattoria Castello di MonteriggioniThis place was something I never knew existed. We pulled into a parking lot and in front of us was a large stone wall surrounded by vineyards. Once inside the wall, we realized we were in a village. There were restaurants, gelato shops, small B&Bs, a church and family homes. There is also a tasting room for the surrounding vineyards. We walk inside and head down 2 small flights of stairs to a very humid wine cellar. There are glasses waiting for us and a small woman who is ready to pour us wine and tell us her story. She passionately talks about her family, the vineyards and the history of the commune. After the tasting we purchase a bottle and wander around the castle. The cobblestone paths, the blue shutters and vineyard views have us in awe. We make our way down to a moderately steep hill towards an opening that looks out onto the hills of Chianti. Of course this is the perfect place for a photo-opt and we aren't the only ones down there. This is one of the few openings in the castle, leading to a path back to the outside world. We stare and gaze out and are immediately mad at our parents for not thinking of moving to Italy so we could grow up in a castle town like this. Thanks Mom. Stop #3 - Siena Oh, Siena, how I love you. Now unfortunately we're done wine "tasting" for the day but that doesn't mean the carafes aren't flowing at dinner. We leave Castello di Monteriggioni, unwillingly, and head to our final destination before the day is over. They park our bus and we begin our walking tour of Siena. This town is magical, I could live here. Beautiful shops, restaurants everywhere and a bustling crowd of young Italians. We finally get to the Palazzo del Campo and I've never seen anything like this. The square slopes down in the center, and surrounding it are restaurants packed with people. There's also old wooden bleachers above the restaurants. Our guide explains to us that the town hosts a bi-annual horse race here, Palio di Siena. After a brief history lesson, they bring out antipasti platters, carafes of wine and 1 pizza per person - no joke. I'm a born and raised Italian so I understand how our kind can force you to over indulge, but this is insane. Everything is so delicious, and the town square is so lively. It's the perfect night. The time has come to leave. After a long drive we get arrive back at our hotel, full of wine and food and amazing memories... but all we want to do is go to sleep so we can wake up tomorrow and explore the next spot on our Italian adventure. So next time you are looking for a international getaway, choose Tuscany. You won't be disappointed, but make sure your iPhone storage is HUGE because trust me you're going to take pictures of EVERYTHING.