Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Warm Tuscan nights

Wine. Good food. Romance. These words come to mind when one dreams of Tuscany.
Your eyes feed on rolling hills and olive trees; on terra cotta brick and cypress pines. Your nose tingles with the scent of oregano and basil herbs…and your whole body feels warm from that typical bright Tuscan sun.

We escaped to the Chianti region, between Firenze (Florence) and Siena, where you will not come across one drop of bad wine. Chianti red wine is quite special as it must contain at least 80-100% Sangiovese grapes to be labeled Chianti. 

Tuscany offers an abundance of accommodation, leaving you spoilt for choice. No matter what your budget is, you’ll find something that suits you. My only tip is to stay somewhere with a pool. Check out local farmers markets on the weekend in 'Greve in Chianti' and eat THE most delicious ice cream in Castellina in Chianti – a place called Gelateria l'Antica Delizia. TDF ice cream!!! No joke.

Our accommodation in Castellina in Chianti
Tuscany provides an opportunity to escape. To dream. To romanticize. To disconnect. No wonder it is the number one holiday destination for couple and romance. The Italians are warm, welcoming and share love through their beautiful food.

Beautiful Siena
For all males in this world - treat your lady to a weekend in Tuscany. Your heart will return filled with love and you’ll long to return for yet another romantic getaway.

My eyes definitely sparkled. A lot.

Grazie Italia.

Read further for some additional tips on Tuscany...towns, food, shopping...(note that these all come from a Tuscan local):

"Here you are with some recommendations for places to visit and eat: 
- In Fiesole a place I have been recommended to eat is 'Le Lance'. Close to Fiesole there is another hill called Settignano - worth a visit and to eat at 'La Capponcina'. Close to Settignano in Ponte a Mensola, at at 'Osvaldo'. 
- In Firenze, in Palazzo Vecchio they organize visits for children of different ages called 'Museo die ragazzi'. You may need to call and book the visit (available in different languages and tailored to different ages). For kids, another nice museum is 'Museo of Leonardo da Vinci'. 
- In Firenze, don't miss Ponte Vecchio and a nice walk along the Arno - very romantic around 6-7PM (choose to have an aperitif somewhere). If you rent bikes in Firenze, make sure to picnic at Giardini di Boboli. 
- In Firenze, EAT: if you like fish 'Portofino' but it's not downtown. Alternatively 'Quattro Leoni'; Pizzeria "Edy house", " I tredici gobbi". 
- Moving now towards Siena :if you take the old chianti road from Firenze and you reach Firenze Impruneta, another place to eat is "Il battibecco". 
- Towards Siena, along the same road, nice to visit is Greve in Chianti; if you want to eat there you may go to "da Verrazzano". 
- Other nice places worth a visit are Volpaia, Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti with the Castello di Brolio: there you can have a nice easy lunch. Close to Castellina in Chianti, a nice place where to stop for a quick lunch or dinner is Osteria di Fonterutoli (excellent food and they make their own wine and olive oil as well). 
- Close by, In Vagliagli, nice to visit is "Cantine di dievole" which are excellent wine producers and have a nice restaurant too. This place has breathtaking landscapes. 
- If you make it to Siena, get to Piazza del campo where they run the Palio (it's on August 16, but the celebrations and atmosphere start 2-3 days in advance). If you want to eat in piazza del campo, here are two options: either a basic but good pizza at "Il bandierino", or good food at the nearby restaurant "Il Bigelli" - these are the places where the Sienese go to eat when in Pzza del Campo. 
- In Siena, at the Enoteca Italiana, within the fortress, there is another good restaurant with a beautiful terrasse, great enoteque and they sell wines at the best quality price ratio and with a huge variety. All these restaurants have outside garden or terraces. 
- Going back toward Firenze, you may stop at Monteriggioni, a nice small medieval hamlet on a hill (nice restaurant is "Il castello"); San Gimignano (the town of the towers, worth half an afternoon visit).
- At the seaside, the most recommended place is Forte die Marmi, where you can rent a place by the beach for the day and bicycles. Very top beach establishments (a little expensive but very nice) 10-15 mins close by is Pietrasanta. 
- As for SHOPPING, there are among the best outlets in the surroundings: one is Brunello Cucinelli (they have a store in Sablon, super duper expensive...); the one here is approx. one hour from Siena towards Perugia, another beautiful town. There you find the main production site - besides being a beautiful place, you get the first line cashmere at more than half price. Also approx. 1 hour from Siena close to Arezzo (another beautiful antique town, where each 1st saturday of the month they have one of the most important antique fares. There is the Prada outlet: leather, man and women fashion, worth a visit and very convenient (the place is called "Levane").
Closer to Firenze, there is another big fashion outlet, "the Mall" of all the top brands (Armani, ferragamo, YSL, ect...)."


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