A Journal, with Pictures

Florence/Tuscany 2018

by on Jun.13, 2018, under Happenings

Since we decid­ed to got to the Cir­rus Own­ers and Pilots Asso­ci­a­tions Euro­pean Migra­tion in Rome we added a week in Tus­cany. We arrived in Flo­rance on Fri­day after a long flight with two stops, so the rest of the day was relax­ing and do a lit­tle sight­see­ing then din­ner at the hotel.  We stayed at a fan­tas­tic small bou­tique hotel right on the Piaz­za S. Maria Novel­la, and a short walk to the incred­i­ble Piaz­za Duo­mo (Reli­gious Cen­ter). We had vis­it­ed Flo­rence before so we did­n’t have to see the must-see tourist sights, so the plan was to soak in more of the cul­ture and of course, par­take of the great Tus­can food and wine. On Sat­ur­day we start­ed the process with a “Culi­nary Tour of Flo­rence”. Our delight­ful guide Bar­bra intro­duced us to every­thing from local truf­fle sand­wich­es, to final­ly Gela­to, with lots of inter­est­ing things in between includ­ing tripe and local wines, olive oil, pas­try, cheese, and on and on. We passed a steak restau­rant where the min­i­mum thick­ness is four fin­gers (three and a half inch­es) and rare is the only choice.  We con­tin­ued our tour through the Medici seat of gov­ern­men­t and viewed the famous stat­ues in the Piaz­za Sig­no­ria then over the famous Ponte Vec­chio, once a meat mar­ket known for its smell and final­ly on to our gelato.  One inter­est­ing site is the Medici Jus­tice stat­ue, no blind­fold, and a sword. The plaque essen­tial­ly says “I’m Cos­mos Medici and jus­tice is in my eyes and I have the sword to car­ry it out”. We spent the after­noon walk­ing off the morn­ing calo­ries doing more sight­see­ing includ­ing the Medici chapel/museum. The evening we dined at Il Cibreo a very spe­cial Flo­ren­tine restaurant.

Our next day adven­ture start­ed with a “Flo­ren­tine Cook­ing Class” with our chef/teacher Lau­ra of www.cookinginflorence.com. This turned out to be great fun and we learned and pre­pared bro­chette, Pici pas­ta, chick­en breast stuffed with moz­zarel­la, and Ter­ra Ma Sue. Then we added a lit­tle Tus­can wine, music by Boclli and we ate the whole thing for lunch. Deli­cious, edu­ca­tion­al and great fun.

A lit­tle more walk­ing off the calo­ries, then a tour “off the beat­en path” by golf cart. Our guide, who was a delight­ful char­ac­ter, enter­tained us with lit­tle-known his­tor­i­cal facts and hid­den trea­sures of Florence.  One piece of Medici gos­sip was the fact that one mar­ried a Haps­burg daugh­ter and they made sure every­one knew by dec­o­rat­ing the city hall with Vien­nese scenes. We fin­ished the golf cart tour high above Flo­rence with a breath­tak­ing view of the city, from S. Mini­a­to al Monte. We then board­ed a boat on the Arno for a sun­set cruise. We fin­ished the day with din­ner at the 100-year-old fam­i­ly run restau­rant, Bucas Mario, fea­tur­ing tra­di­tion­al Flo­ren­tine recipes.

The next day our dri­ver guide Simon picked us up at the hotel and drove us into Tus­cany. We first toured the love­ly medieval hill-town of San Gimignano. We explored this walled town with per­fect­ly pre­served tow­ers and build­ing with a won­der­ful view of the coun­try­side. We then dri­ve to a win­ery for a relaxed lunch and wine tast­ing, (and buy­ing) expe­ri­ence. After lunch, we meet our local guide in the beau­ti­ful city of Siena who takes us on a walk­ing tour of this fabled medieval city, includ­ing the remark­able shell-shaped Piaz­za del Cam­po-home of the famous Palio horse race and Unique Goth­ic-Romanesque Duo­mo. Final­ly, we dri­ve out into the coun­try­side to our hotel/castle, Castel­lo di Casole, where we will stay while in Tus­cany. Our hotel turns out to be a real gem on a hill over­look­ing the beau­ti­ful coun­try­side of Tuscany.

On Tues­day Simon picked us up at the hotel for a day of learn­ing about Chi­anti wine. We Began with an excur­sion to Pan­zano, then a vis­it to a his­toric abbey cel­lar. We then had anoth­er light Tus­can lunch accom­pa­nied by Ital­ian wines.

Wednes­day our great driver/guide picked us up again and we were off to the town of Mon­tal­ci­no. Mon­tal­ci­no is impor­tant in that it is the cap­i­tal of the leg­endary Brunel­lo wine region. We explore the wind­ing streets and medieval walls and fortress with a great view of the Tus­can hills. Brunel­lo is made from Chi­anti grapes, but they pro­duce a very dif­fer­ent wine in this region. We then vis­it a local win­ery for a tour, tast­ing, and lunch. We add some Brunel­lo to our cel­lar to accom­pa­ny the Chi­anti we pur­chased ear­li­er. After lunch we decide to vis­it one last vil­lage in Tus­cany, Pien­za, fin­ish­ing our Tus­cany explo­ration with a cel­e­bra­to­ry Gela­to before head­ing back to our hotel for our last night din­ner of real piz­za and Tus­can wine.

Tus­cany was won­der­ful, Cul­ture, Food and Wine and won­der­ful places and peo­ple. Tomor­row we dri­ve to Rome to meet fly­ing friends and vis­it a great city. It will be hard to beat the unique ambiance and char­ac­ter of Tus­cany. If it’s not obvi­ous by now, we love Italy, Ital­ian food, and Ital­ian wine.


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