As the title suggests you can probably guess as to where I went after Rome…Tuscany! If you didn’t read my previous post you can “click here“ and read all about the first part of my travel adventure!
A little background information, the region of Tuscany is located in central Italy and makes up an area of around 23,000 square kilometres, with a population of a roughly 3.8 million inhabitants. While Tuscany is well known for it’s landscapes, rolling hills and greenery, it’s also well regarded for it’s traditions, history, artistic legacy and it’s influence on high culture. I teamed up with Viator for an intensive 4 day tour of a lifetime, exploring multiple towns within this untouched region.
I decided to break this post up in two part as it was slowly becoming a novel!
– Day 1 –
Nothing says welcome to Tuscany like exploring three towns, downing 2 bowls of pasta and attending a wine tasting all in the same day #Heaven! First stop Montepulciano; an ancient village rich with medieval and renaissance buildings, famous for producing one of the oldest wines of Italy the “Nobile di Montepulciano”. Our town guide was a lovely lady who just so happened to be from Sydney as well, but had been in the small town for the last 40 years! Busting with knowledge she spoke about the town history and it’s importance within Tuscany. She then escorted us deep down into the towns underground wine cellars which have been untouched for hundreds of years, which then set the scene for the first wine tasting.
Feeling slightly buzzed, from there it was onto the next town a short stop in the beautiful renaissance town called Pienza. The city which was built under Pope Pius II is also well-known for its pecorino cheese! After eating my way through that town it was off to conqueror the next, Siena.
In Siena the architecture soars. Effectively a giant, open-air museum to the Gothic, its spiritual and secular medieval monuments still sit in harmony, many filled with collections of Sienese art. Add vibrant streets where every third door (literally) opens into a restaurant, enoteca or deli, and you’re in for a very fine time indeed. The historic centre of Siena has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is one of the nation’s most visited tourist attractions. Thanks to the famous 600 year old horserace between the contrade of Siena which takes place twice a year, and still runs to this very day! Lucky for me on this particular day the Tartuca (Tortoise) district was having a celebration, so I got to experience the authentic localised patriotism.
– Day 2 –
In true gypsy form after breakfast it was time to pack everything up again and move onto the next location – San Gimignano. A tiny city that has remained intact through the centuries; situated on a hilltop its famous for its many monumental towers, frescoes and other art treasures. We spent roughly about 2 hours walking around (hindsight 1 hour max) exploring pretty much every alleyway and corridor the city had to offer. Mind you, you could walk from one end of the city to the other in about 10-15mins. With time to kill what else is there to do but sit down and stuff your face with gelato!
Next on the tour was wine tasting number two which was located within the “Chianti Classico” region at this locally family owned winery. Where we were treated to about 16 bottles of wine, local cheeses and cured meats, Bellissimo!
From there it was onto the city of Pisa to witness the famous “Leaning tower of Pisa” known worldwide for its unintended tilt. Pisa for me was a little bit of a let down, you get the tourist photo then you leave. Unfortunately there isn’t much else to do, plus the tower is shadowed by the seas of illegal market stalls run by immigrants who hound you to buy stuff, which you need to make your way through before entering into the square. Not one to end on a negative, the tower itself is extremely beautiful, plus I can now tick it off my list!
After Pisa we drove towards to the coast line, staying the night in a beautiful little fishing town by the name of La Spezia.