We were lucky enough to be able to stay at my new in-laws house, which they’d vacated for us and is in a quiet village called Soiana, has it’s own pool and beautiful terrace and balconies on each floor. Lucky us! Because it was in a family house, the fridges were stocked, the cellar was full of wine and it meant we could truly kick back and relax. We had the run of the place (thanks mummy and daddy in law).
So we spent a couple of days lazing by the pool and the rest driving out across Tuscany and wider. We visited Florence, Volterra, San Gimignano, Chianti and Lucca. We ate and drank our way around…utter bliss. Each town had it’s own speciality dish and local wine and we relished trying each and every one.
Tuscany is such a vast and beautiful part of Italy, that it’d take way more than 8 days to see it all and experience it all. We wanted to pack lots in, but still feel like we were getting that well-deserved relaxation in. I think we managed the perfect balance with 1/2 days spent in each town. I’ll talk through some of the main points and obviously include loads of photos, but won’t ramble on at the risk of boring you all! If you do have any specific questions though, please ask…
Firstly, here’s a few shots of the amazing view from the house and more importantly the pool –
Next was our day trip to Florence. I’d been before as a child but hubby hadn’t, so I was excited to experience it together. It was the busiest part of Tuscany we visited, unsurprisingly, but it’s so beautiful and has some truly magnificent architecture that we barely noticed. The only thing I would say is, there were queues to everything! We weren’t too worried about the museums and touristy bits, we just wanted to wander and take it all in, which is good as otherwise we would’ve been queuing for hours. And I made the biggest faux pas possible when trying to look inside the Duomo…I didn’t realise that you had to cover-up as it’s a house of worship and went in in my summer dress and got a stern shake of the head and asked to leave…oops! Naughty Holly!
Not as bad as hubby who carelessly leant against a priceless thousand-year old mural to get this photo (gosh, you can’t take us anywhere!)…
Adore these padlocks, a symbol of love, on the Ponte Vecchio (stunning bridge of shops across the river)…
Next we drove to the hillside town of San Gimignano. This was one of our favourite places and we actually ended up going twice as enjoyed it so much. It’s the town which originally had over 70 medieval towers…the New York skyline of the middle ages. Only a few remain and we tirelessly climbed one of them to get this view…
San Gimignano is the rival village to Volterra which deserves a special mention, as it’s truly beautiful, has some gorgeous little shops and plenty of places to eat and drink.
Then onto Chianti…we couldn’t not go for a bit of wine tasting! Flicking through Jamie Oliver’s Italian cook book, we stumbled across ‘the crazy butcher’ Dario Cecchini and knew we had to pay him a visit. In the Lonely Planet guide-book it stated that he served one of the best burgers in Italy and after lots of pasta, this was a welcome change. So we visited the sleepy and quaint Chianti village named Panzano and waited for the butcher to open. We could clearly see the entrance to the butchers with Dario chopping away at raw cuts of meat, but we couldn’t see the entrance to the restaurant that promised to serve the best burger.
We tentatively hung around outside for a bit, hoping someone else would be brave enough to enter so we could follow them, but our hunger gave out so I just walked in and in pigeon-Italian, asked if we could eat. We were welcomed with smiles, house red wine and tasters of fresh carpaccio and Dario himself pointed to what looked like the fridges. Restaurant? I asked and he just nodded. Next thing we know, the door slides open and we’re being ushered through the fridges, past butcher-boys chopping meats and through a secret door and staircase. What an awesome and bizarre secret passageway which led to the roof terrace restaurant area, where people were already happily munching away at their fresh ground meat!
We parked-up next to an American couple, who were equally excited to be there and ordered the rare burgers each, with a starter of Chianti sushi. Divine! Served with potatoes, salad, homemade sauces and tuscan bread – washed down with beautiful chianti red wine. Mmmmm…
I’ll write a separate post on wine-tasting in Chianti another day, as that deserves a whole post on its own.
Our final tuscan village trip was to the beautiful walled town of Lucca. This was a truly unique town with medieval walls encircling it which you could walk, jog or cycle along. We chose to cycle…in tandem 🙂 We adored this town, had the most beautiful pasta and wine lunch and took 360 degree photos of the central Piazza Anfiteatro (amphitheatre). Truly unique and stunning.
So what a finish to our honeymoon in Italy…I want to be back there already and can’t wait to revisit and continue exploring.
Has anyone else been to Tuscany? Where did we miss?