This morning began with an early wake up call and then a 5 hour bus trip up to the Tuscany region. We slept for the most part, stopping twice along the way for bathroom breaks and lunch. Our guide gave us a great historic synopsis of the region and it’s importance to the Renaissance and the Italian culture as a whole.
Driving into Tuscany was exactly what you would picture, large villas up on top of the rolling hills, with those tall pointed shrub like trees lining the roads and rows of perfectly manicured olive and grape trees. We stopped at La Bottega del Palagio, a castle and winery in chianti. There we took a tour of the castle which was once a military fortress and was given to a prominent military family from the Florence government in recognition of their service. The family turned it into their own villa and winery and have been making wine there ever since. In addition to the various wines they make, they also produce extra virgin olive oil. All of which is stored and aged in the former castle dungeon (basement)
After a tour of the castle we got to sample a few of their wines and olive oils. We tasted several different wines that they produced including the Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Reserve which are made only in the Chianti region; the Apoteosi which is a combination of a merlot and chianti and finally their dessert wine called Vin Santa Del Chianti Classico “amabile”. The dessert wine was by far our favorite. It had a very sweet honey like flavor to it.
After filling up on wine, cheese and olive oil soaked bread, we headed to Florence to check into our hotel for the night. We had a group dinner at a local restaurant: bruscetta with the sweetest tomatoes, garlic bread, spaghetti, salad, chocolate cake and limoncello for dessert. It was delicious. We wandered around town for a while after. Tomorrow is their “republic day” which is about the same as our July 4th holiday so there will be a lot of celebrations going on.
No Snookie or DJ Pauly D sights as of yet, although thanks to Grace’s super creeping skills we found the club that they frequent.