Europe 2012: Day 8–Tuscany Tour Part I

On our third full day in Florence, the huz and I went on a guided group tour, called The Best of Tuscany Tour, run by the Walkabout tours company. We departed by bus from the local train station at 8:30 in the morning.

Our day trip featured a full itinerary, highlighting the best of Tuscany:

    • Siena
    • Visit to an organic winery
    • San Gimignano
    • Pisa

In this post, Part I, I will tell you about our visits to Siena and the Fattoria Poggio Alloro winery, and in an upcoming post, Part II, I will highlight our visits to San Gimignano and Pisa.

So here we go!

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After maybe an hour or so of driving, we arrived in Siena, where a local tour guide led our group through the medieval town. We all wore headsets so that we could hear our guide at all times.

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Siena was absolutely beautiful. This Tuscan hilltown is the namesake for the color “siena”; surely everyone remember the Crayola “burnt sienna” crayon. The brick walls and roof tops of many Sienese buildings are constructed of the reddish-brown clay upon which the city is built.

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Siena was built on the industry of banking, and below is Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, which is the oldest surviving bank in the world.

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We walked through the heart of town, the sloping Piazza del Campo.BUCKET_P1090467

Twice annually, the Piazza del Campo is transformed from a public square to a stadium for horseracing.BUCKET_P1090471

The town’s passion for the sport of horse racing is quiet apparent! Here is someone’s doorknob:

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Another view of Siena:

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Our tour also included a visit to the Siena’s 12th century Duomo, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.BUCKET_P1090478

The interior featured lots of horizontal stripes.BUCKET_P1090479

The floor was quite a splendor! It has been covered for centuries, but we were lucky and happened to be visiting during one of the rare times that the floor is unveiled.

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After our brief tour of Siena, we had a bit of free time to explore.BUCKET_P1090495BUCKET_P1090496

Double-self portrait failed attempt!:

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After meeting back up with our tour group, we rode by bus to our next destination: a Tuscan winery for lunch!

My primary reason for choosing Florence as one of our three European trip destinations was its proximity to Tuscany and its wineries. One of my lifelong goals was to visit Tuscany and taste wine, and that is precisely what we did!

The winery we visited was called Fattoria Poggio Alloro, a family-owned, organic winery and working farm in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. A member of the family of owners gave us a tour of the grounds and facilities at the winery.

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Vineyards:

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Baby cow at the winery farm:BUCKET_P1090511

These cows live a pretty nice life, I’d like to think! They have ample room for grazing on the Tuscan hillside.

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The winery also has a large quantity of olive trees, from which they make their own extra virgin olive oil.

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At the winery, we were treated to a lovely lunch! Everything in our meal was homemade at the winery, with the only exception being the cheese served on our pasta.

Our first course was freshly baked, toasted bread, drizzled with the olive oil made at the farm. The olive oil was incredible! The best I’ve ever had.

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Wish I could have brought a bottle – or seven – home with me!

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For our next course we had homemade penne pasta slathered with a homemade tomato meat sauce. It was most delicious!!

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Each course of our meal was paired with a wine from the winery. The chianti served with our pasta was my favorite.

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We were seated at communal picnic tables, outdoors on the patio, overlooking the Tuscan hillside.BUCKET_P1090520

The huz enjoying his food and wine:BUCKET_P1090521

A spectacular view! The skies were in fact perfectly blue and sunny, but just got a bit overexposed in the below picture.BUCKET_P1090524

Our third course was a romaine salad with home grown tomatoes, dressed in Fattoria Poggio Alloro’s olive oil.BUCKET_P1090522

Our fourth course of food and wine was a hazelnut biscotti, dipped in a very strong dessert wine. I think everyone was feeling pretty good at this point. I know I was!

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After lunch we wandered the grounds of the winery and took in the breathtaking views of the Tuscan hillside.

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Dream. Come. True.BUCKET_P1090526

From the winery, we had a view of the San Gimignano skyline, also known as “Medieval Manhattan.”

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The views were more incredible than I could have ever imagined and I never wanted to leave!BUCKET_P1090534BUCKET_P1090535

The winery also has an inn and pool. This would be an awesome place to stay!BUCKET_P1090542BUCKET_P1090536

The “Medieval Manhattan” skyline of San Gimignano, as can be seen above, was our next destination. Stay tuned for Part II of our tour!

6 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Day 8–Tuscany Tour Part I

  1. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 8–Tuscany Tour Part II « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  2. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 9–Cinque Terre Trek « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  3. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 11–First Full Day in Rome « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  4. It looks like you had a great time (and great weather!) The rolling hills are what really do it for me. I studied abroad in Italy, it will always hold a soft spot in my heart. The copious amounts of wine and gelato have NOTHING to do with it…

  5. Pingback: Europe Trip 2012–Two Week Summary « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

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