Although we never saw Diane Lane, Tuscany was definitely full of colourful characters and beautiful places. We spent five days staying in a Tuscan villa, touring the wineries, sampling the local cheeses and wearing in our walking shoes on the various walking tours around Florence and beyond.
We are met by our host in Florence airport who drove us to our villa that was 45 minutes away in a village called Pergine Valdarno. When we arrived, we were given a tour of the villa – there are 3 different ones in the village.
After we settled into our villa, we went wine tasting near the village, and of course, purchased some to take back to sample later. Once we had our fill of wine, we went back to our villa for our Italian cooking experience. What goes better with fine wine than an authentic, home cooked Italian meal? We learned to make appetizers, potato gnocchi, and for dessert, we made a custard cake. This was all paired, of course, with lots of Tuscan wine.
We were awoken on day two by bells chiming in the village so we got ready and walked down to the coffee bar for some cappuccino which we took back to our villa to relax for the rest of the morning before our half day tour started at 3. This half day tour took us to the village of Loro Ciuffena & Gropina, located in the Province of Arezzo. We ate a home cooked lunch at a very quaint restaurant and visited a local winery. Back we went to our little villa to spend the evening relaxing and sampling some more of our newly acquired wine as our next day was going to be full of sight seeing.
At 9am we were ready to start our full day tour of Siena and its plethora of medieval brick buildings. Our tour guide was Lucca and he took us all over the town. We visited the different monuments and churches throughout the town and made our way through the narrow streets. We saw where the horse racing takes place every June and August, what each flag represented that was flying in the area and which areas in Siena the people are from. We stopped for lunch at a little outdoor restaurant and had some free time to do some shopping and looking around the villas. A taxi picked us up at 4 pm and took us back to our home village. Once we arrived back, we walked do the street for some supper at a local family-run restaurant and had the rest of the evening to ourselves to relax.
We woke up the next morning and headed off to visit Arezzo and Anghiari. Arezzo is a city in eastern Tuscany. The hilltop Cathedral not only had breathtaking views of the city, but also features beautiful stained glass windows, vaulted ceilings and a 15th century fresco of Mary Magdalene. We had lunch at a sandwich place where you made your own sandwich and stopped at a market to shop the local artisan shops. When our bellies and arms were full, we drove back to our home villa and were taken out for dinner at another local restaurant by our host.
Our last morning in Pergine Valdarno, we woke up and walked to the local coffee bar for our cappuccino. We said our good-byes and our thank-yous to our host and drove to Florence for the remainder of our trip. Upon arrival at the Pierre Hotel in Florence, we rested because we knew there would be a lot of walking in our future.
When we felt appropriately rested, we proceeded to our 3-hour tour of Florence with our guide, Claudio. He was very knowledgeable about the different parts of Florence, the Duomo and all the statues. Then, because what tour doesn’t include food, we stopped for lunch.
On our next 2-hour tour of Florence, our guide, Annette, took us to all the places most tour guides don’t take the tourists. She took us to all the different historic sites, the bridge with all the gold shops and told us the history and the affect of the second world war and the flood had on the area. We saw some amazing frescoes surrounded by beautiful architecture.
As this was our last night in Italy, we decided to go out for dinner, despite our aching feet. It was raining all day as well, so we didn’t venture very far. Just across the street from our hotel there was an outdoor restaurant.
The next morning, we left Florence behind as we made our way to Paris and then eventually home. I loved Tuscany and hope to go back again soon.