Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Sunny Weekend in Tuscany!

     After a long and stressful workweek, Stephen and I drove about four hours south into Tuscany to have a relaxing weekend filled with wine and beautiful scenery.  Our first stop was in the Chianti region, one of the most famous areas for red wine.  We took a tour of Castello di Verrazzano and Castello di Vicchiomaggio and had a light lunch with some other Italians that were visiting the area.

      Before making it to the castle in which we were staying the night, we stopped at another vineyard, Castello di Ama to make a few purchases and then be on our way.  The entire drive was absolutely stunning.  Every area of Tuscany was a scene of rolling hills and vineyards getting ready for the season.  The castle where we stayed was so cool!  The name was Castello di Meleto (there seems to be a theme of castles, isn't there?) and we arrived late in the evening so we had a delicious dinner at the castle's restaurant down the road before calling it a day.

     In the morning I woke up early to sneak around the castle and take some pictures.  We needed to leave early in the day, so we were unable to take the tour, but just walking around the grounds was a wonderful treat.  My favorite room was the theater which you can see below--it was incredibly ornate.

      We were back on the road at 10:00 and headed toward Siena, one of the major cities of the region.  It was huge and set atop a large hill, but even in the off-season there were lots of people bustling about.  We walked through Piazza del Campo and then went into the cathedral.  As it seems, there are beautiful mosaics on the floors of the cathedral, but they are covered for the majority of the year and only revealed for two weeks at the end of summer.  We couldn't see the floors, but did see lots of beautiful paintings and glass.

     In the afternoon we drove another hour south into Montalcino where we visited La Fortuna and Il Palazzone (we just had to get away from those castles).  We ended the day in Montepulciano, a town about forty minutes to the west, with a dinner and tasting at Gattavecchi, a cellar in an old monastery right on the side of the mountain.  It was another beautiful day; we were so lucky with weather almost hitting the 70s.

     We stayed the night in an agriturismo, one of my favorite Italian traditions.  An agriturismo is essentially a farm that draws visitors to eat or stay.  Stephen and I have eaten at many agriturismi near us where the food you eat is food grown and produced only at the farm.  The agriturismo we stayed at in Montepulciano was not a restaurant, but they had a farmhouse where we spent the night.  We were able to buy some jams that were produced on the fields you see in the pictures below!

     On Sunday morning we decided to just head home since we had quite a jam-packed weekend, but when we started to pack up the car we noticed something really strange!  At first I thought it was a baby snake, but upon further inspection, there were two lines of caterpillars slowing making their way across the drive in a formation.  It was really crazy, so I had to take pictures!

      The entire region of Tuscany was utterly beautiful--every ten minutes I wanted to pull the car over to take pictures, but it seemed as though the scenery just got progressively more amazing.  We had warm weather, wonderful views, and we brought home plenty of wine to make the trip last even longer.

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