Monday, September 21, 2009

My Italy Sketchbook. Day Four...Chianti Wine Tour, Florence

One of our favorite events while in Italy was a Chianti Wine tour that we went on our second day in Florence. We met our group near the train station and boarded a very large bus, one that made you wonder if it could actually fit down some of the narrow streets! A word to the wise if you sign up for one of these tours - or ANY tour while you are in Italy - the tour guides DO NOT babysit you! If you are not paying attention, you WILL get left behind! Our group walked from the meeting point to where the bus was waiting, and our tour guide took a head count once we all boarded, and discovered that one couple was already missing! Well, she just went on without them! And I have to say - this happened on several other tours we took as well. David and I were beginning to wonder if the tour guides left a few people behind on purpose as a warning to the other tourists....

Anyway, our first stop on this tour was the Fattoria Castello Il Palagio. A gorgeous Castle dating back to 1252, that has a very rich history.

The courtyard is especially beautiful, each of the four walls having different characteristics and brickwork. The courtyard is still used for weddings and special occasions (in fact the castle is still occupied by the family). The door on the right is the family chapel.

A staircase in the far corner...I loved the shape of the door and the warm yellow color on the walls.

Dotted among the bricks are coat-of-arms representing the marriages of family members - two family crests joining as one. The "vespa" was a popular image on these crests (in reference to the hornet, not the small motorcycles!)

A view of the region from the back of the castle.

A large tree (I think she said cedar...I could be wrong) near the front door.

Perched along a garden wall, enjoying the gorgeous weather and the views.

Venturing down into the wine cellar, which was once the dungeons of the castle!

And of course the hi-light of this stop - our wine tasting! We tried three different red wines, including a fabulous Chianti and Merlot (which was delicious with Pecorino cheese, a new favorite of mine) as well as an amazing desert wine accompanied by biscotti, which we enjoyed dipped into the desert wine.

If you are traveling alone, in a small group, or as a couple, I highly recommend a tour of this kind - the opportunity to sit and chat with our fellow tourists was very enjoyable!

As our (now even happier) group re-boarded our bus, we made our way to the next village, Greve, where we took a short break to walk around the town square and peek in the shops.

If you are looking for more authentic Italian wares and souvenirs, this is another good reason to venture into the Chianti region - we saw many shops of pottery, art, and linens that were all locally made.

Another view of Greve.

Another short ride on the bus brought us to the beautiful Castellina area. This quiet and charming village was definitely a world away from the heavily tourist-filled roads of Florence.

David and I found some wonderful hand-carved cutting boards made from local Olive wood, our favorite souvenirs from our trip.

A charming wine shop.

I loved this beautiful sculpture and outdoor faucet.

After another short bus ride thru the hills, with a gorgeous sunset as we drove to our final destination, we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a wonderful restaurant located on Centro Storico San Donato in Poggio. I have never smelled ANYTHING so wonderful as the aroma in this restaurant - "La Toppa". I wish I had more photos of the sunset and this last village, but my pictures all came out blurry! So take my word for it - great views, great food, great fun...take a Chianti Wine tour if you are ever in Florence!


Yankeegirl said...

Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful trip!! Great pics!

Jamie Ribisi-Braley said...

We purchased an olive wood cutting board in Assisi-- one of my favorite purchases and just so lovely!!

pegi said...

What wonderful little shops! I was going to ask you if everyone was happier, but you said they were.How funny!!

Krystyna81 said...

Yankeegirl - I'm thrilled you are enjoying the pictures!
Jamie - I was so happy to find a unique, hand-made souvenir. Plus it's functional, such a nice bonus!
Hi Pegi - yes! wine seems to bring people together...somehow... :)

Nicole said...

I took this same tour and loved it! Do you happen to remember the name of the tour or the company than ran it?