Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Saved the best for last; wine tour

Upon leaving Rome, we were planning on heading down to Naples. After considering how much time we would have there (a day is all) we decided to head to Sienna. We hopped on the Eurostar train again and made it to Florence around 3pm. Our intentions for our last full day in Italy was to go on a wine tour out of Sienna. While trying to decided how to get there from Florence, we got to thinking, why not just stay there again, as we would have to come back through Florence to make it to Pisa to catch our flight anyway.

Back to Archi Rossi we went, where we were set up in an eight bunk room. We signed up for a wine tour Shaun had recommended that would take us to San Gimignano, Siena, and Chianti. Before supper, we headed towards the river for sunset, that was very uneventful, as had all of them so far. Back at the hostel, we ran into Stephen, whom had been one of our roommates in Rome. We enjoyed his company again for this dinner, and our last dinner the next night.

Wine Tour
Into a full eight seat Mercedes van we went, heading through Florence's rush hour. Once on the interstate, our guide, and driver sped around other cars, swerved in and out of lanes and kept us on the edge of our seats. Our first stop was San Gimgnano and my breath was take
n away! This is the side of Italy that I had wanted to see. Cobbled streets led us around this towered village, with quaint shops and cafes all around. At 10am it was very quiet, with hardly anyone out and about, the air cool and crisp, and just a light haze on the horizon. We stopped as a group for treats, picture opportunities, and information. Our guide was intelligent, humorous, and lighthearted. He took us into little nooks and crannies that we would have otherwise missed, including the entrance courtyard to a museum that had frescoes on the walls and a well.

View of countryside around San Gimignano

Next up was a stop at a castle, I think. I don't even know the name of the town that was near it. This wasn't a planned stop, however, since we were running ahead of schedule, we stopped for a few moments to take a couple of pictures.

When we arrived in Siena, we met up with another tour group of about the same size for lunch, and then a guide took us all around the city. Siena was much busier than San Gimignano, but then again, it is quite a bit larger as well. We went into one church here, and it was pretty impressive, albeit a bit plain. As many churches as I had been in on this trip, I just couldn't get used to how large they were. All of the churches that I had been in back home were large as well, but they were filled with pews for the congregation to sit on, which made the space look smaller. From there we made our way into the city, making stops along the way to take photos of the great vistas that Siena had to offer.

We made our way to Piazza del Campo, the stage of the famous Palio race. This is where everyone was. At 2pm it was packed with tourists, locals, and us! In fact, we as we were leaving this area, I recognized someone, in Siena! fact, it was Louise, who was also staying at Archi Rossi back in Florence. We had had breakfast with her that morning and she had mentioned her plans of going to Siena that day as well. Such a small world, even in Italy!

Catedrale di Santa Maria

Back with our original group, we headed towards the Chianti region, making a pit stop to take photographs of vineyards and surrounding areas. By this time, we were still on back roads, and our driver was still driving fast and weaving in and out of traffic. I guess you could say he was fitting the Italian stereotype of a crazy driver. I have never experienced car sickness, but why not have my first bout of it in Italy? I felt nauseous and light headed, and couldn't wait to get to the vineyard and be still for a bit. Once we arrived at Fattoria Sant' Appiano, we were given a quick rundown of how they make their wine. We had the luxury of tasting five wonderful wines, ranging in price from 8 euros to 25 euros per bottle. I chose to bring home a bottle of Chianti Superiore Cottaccio 2005 that was 18 euros. I look forward to the special occasion that will qualify in opening it.

Our new friends from Hong Kong and Austrailia

Needless to say, I can't wait to go back to Italy again, although, the next time I go, I will try to visit the smaller villages and avoid the larger, more touristy cities.

1 comment:

Buddhist_philosopher said...

gorgeous photos, as always, xoxo :)