I’ve been blogging about cities and taking lots of shots of landscapes and architecture in Italy, but really my wife and I traveled here for food and wine. We had our most enjoyable or second most enjoyable day in Italy (Hard to judge, the Cinque Terre was also amazing) after one full day centered on drinking and eating. When you tour fantastic wineries and end up eating lunch at a world famous butcher shop, I guess that’s what you’d expect. A perfect dinner awaited back in Florence as noted in my last post.
My wife and I booked a tour with Tuscan Wine Tours, hoping to try some full bodied dry red wines and wanting to see the famed Tuscan countryside. We booked well in advance as this outfit is well reviewed in Tripadvisor and spots/available dates were filling up. We were not disappointed. If you have a day in Florence and like wine and meat, this tour is what you should do. You can see the architecture of Florence in pictures on the internet but you can’t taste the wine.
After a 20-30 minute drive we arrived at the first winery. The scenery was nice and your tour guide will prep you on Italian wine types and classifications. Our guide spoke perfect English as did the hosts at the wineries. Tuscan wines are centered around Chianti Classico but offer quite a few other varieties of primarily red full bodied wines. The wineries also made their own olive oil which could change your whole mentality on the stuff if you’ve never had great olio. We haven’t bought the supermarket brand ever since. If you do some research though there are some affordable brands to be purchased just about anywhere.
Lunch was at a butcher shop in the small town of Panzano. The shop is easy to spot due to the unconventional horizontal red and white stripes and painted blue and flowered cow out front. Meat was on the menu and it was fantastic. We were surprised long after we returned home to see a place that looked familiar to us on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” during an episode he shot in Tuscany. After comparing some pictures to the video we realized the amazing lunch we had on this tour was at the shop of famed butcher Dario Cecchini.
After lunch, another winery with excellent Chianti and olive oil. We stopped in the town of Greve for gelato on the trip back to Florence where we were dropped off at the scenic Piazzale Michelangelo. From here you can get a view of the entire city skyline. The stress of sightseeing in the crowded cities can be well relieved by a tour into the country side, especially with some wine involved. – Mike Valore
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