Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tuscany

From Amul:
We're back home in the US after an amazing trip.  We didn't have much time to update the blog after Florence so these next few posts will be recaps.  

Following six days of city sight-seeing in Rome and Florence, we were due for some relaxing country-side living.  Fortunately we had planned just for this and spent the next three days in Tuscany.

Our Tuscany adventure started with a trip to the Florence airport to rent a car.  I had specifically reserved a Fiat 500, mostly because it was the only automatic transmission car available but also because I've been seeing this commercial for the last 4 months:


I had to promise that I wouldn't drive our car (that Kira affectionately named "Fifi") into the water. Its a great little car for city driving but I can tell you it was not built for the bumpy unpaved roads of the Tuscan countryside.



We drove 1.5 hours south from Florence to our farm stay at Fattoria Voltrana just outside of the town of San Gimignano.  Voltrana is located a mile off the main road up in the hill.  The farm grows grapes and olives and the owners make their own wine and olive oil.  Additionally, Voltrana breeds and trains Icelandic horses offering riding tours through the surrounding hills and towns.  We were unable to go on the tour because of my lack of riding experience:(


We decided to have dinner at the farm that night. A simple four course Tuscan meal was served with house wine that dangerously "tasted like punch" according to Kira.  We went through a litre of it, needless to say dinner was a fun time.

The next morning we decided to drive to Siena and got lost got driving into town but saved ourselves by simply stopping at the first parking spot we saw and walking the rest of the way.  Kira wrote about Siena in her earlier post: Summer Reading. Despite the rain we had a great time exploring town. In the evening we had dinner in San Gimignano at Trattoria Chiribiri recommended by the farm staff.  Chiribiri has only 8 tables and puts out some great homemade rustic Tuscan dishes. Kira had the homemade pasta with wild boar raghu.  We noticed the pasta itself was the scraps and end pieces from tortellini, they were all different sizes and shapes. My Ossobuco with stewed tomatoes and vegetables fell off the bones at the lightest touch. Oh so rustic and oh so good.


The next day we headed east to the Chianti region for some wine tasting.  We made a reservation to tour Catello di Verrezzano.  The Verrezzano family and their descendants have been making wine here since the year 1150, its oldest winery in Italy.  The most famous member of the Verrazzano family was Giovanni da Verrazzano the explorer that charted much of the east coast of the United States for whom the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York City is named after (they left out one of the "Z"s in his name).



After wine tasting we headed into Greve in Chianti the main town in the Chianti region. We swung by the local butcher shop to pick up some salami to bring home as well as a nice prosciutto sandwich for an afternoon snack. We decided some more wine tasting was in order and headed to the Chianti wine museum which just so happens to have the largest wine tasting room in the world.  The 140 wines are self serve controlled by electronic dispensers that read your pre-paid tasting card.  After trying a few desert wines Kira found a sparkling moscato at which point we used out remaining funds to get Kira a full glass of it. She was happy to say the least.  We drove back to San Gimignano to watch the sunset from the top of the city walls before having dinner at Chiribiri for the second night in a row.  Once again it did not disappoint.