I have been in love with Italy since I was younger and I watched the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” and since then I knew one day, I would go. It’s only fitting with my love for wine, why I chose to go as an adult.
Tuscany was just about an hour south of Florence, and it was a beautiful drive. The views ranged from thick green forests to historic towns, and rolling vineyards and olive orchards. I was in awe the whole time. And after reading this post, you will be too.
How many days to stay in Tuscany?
I don’t think there’s an easy answer to this because you can easily enjoy your time under the Tuscan sun for days, weeks, months, and even years! We stayed in Tuscany, Italy for 4.5 days and we never felt like it was too much.
Where to stay in Tuscany?
We stayed at an amazing resort and spa which I would 100% recommend to anyone. Castello di Spaltenna is in the small town of Gaiole in Chianti which was a quaint town and you could walk from the hotel into the village – esc town. The hotel had beautiful views of the countryside and Tuscany’s iconic rolling greens. We had a beautiful room, with purple flowers outside, and had a nice spacious living room and bathroom. The bath products were amazing, loved the LED lights in the shower and I loved how we had complimentary turndown service with chocolates.
We spent a day at the very relaxing pool! We ended our pool day in the spa where we were able to use the sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi. The hotel had a gorgeous outdoor pool, but for the cooler months, there’s also an indoor pool.
The hotel’s morning breakfast was amazing! They had everything from sweet waffles, pancakes, croissants to cheeses and meats, salmon, bacon, and eggs, not to mention fresh fruit and yogurt bar. They also have many restaurants, including La Terrazza Restaurant and Il Pievano. Il Pievano has light dishes and is Michelin-starred / rated, while La Terrazza is your more casual dining also where breakfast was served every morning.
All of the villages in Tuscany are fairly spread out so if you feel comfortable, I’d recommend renting a car. None of us felt like we could navigate the windy roads, and we also wanted to enjoy all the wine we possibly could – so we opted to get a private driver. This made more sense because to get a cab they start their fare as soon as they left which was ~ 30 km from where we were staying. So our drivers ended up only being a little more than we would have paid for a cab. Plus we had a private service and felt like we were living the definition of the swanky life.
Where to eat in Tuscany?
We did a few wineries that also did food pairings which I would highly recommend. Tuscany has amazing olives, cannoli, gelato, charcuterie, cheese, wine, olive oil, balsamic, prosciutto, limoncello, fresh pasta…this list goes on, but pretty much anything you expect of your typical Italian dining experiences you’ll find in Tuscany.
Our first night we spent at Barone Ricasoli where we had a sunset tour of the castle followed by wine tasting from their vineyards paired with delicious foods. They started us off with rose paired with a flan/cream cheese appetizer with of course freshly baked bread. Our next course was pasta with veal paired with their famous Chianti Classico. We then had rooster with almost like a caesar dressing. And for dessert, we had tiramisu with a dessert wine. You can’t be picky at something like this because it’s all chef’s menu and they don’t post the menus. You know what you’re getting when you sit down.
Another wine and food pairing we did was at Vignamaggio, where it’s rumored that Monna Lisa spent summers. This was also my favorite tour we did! This tour took us around the property, gardens, and wine room. We had 4 courses – starter, first course, second course, dessert. There is no menu to choose from again, it’s all the chef’s selects. Our first course was melon with ricotta, pesto, and bread chips. Our first course was pasta. Then our second course (yes we were already full) was pesto potatoes with pork and tuna sauce over it. A lot of dishes had a pickled onion too. It was a HOT humid summer day, so the dessert was perfect. We had peaches and grapes with lemon sorbet and raspberry drizzle. You can also buy olive oil at the gift shop and we kicked ourselves after we didn’t.
Can you believe we still had room for other foods? But we did.
We had caesar salads at the hotel and one dinner there as well. Both were very delish! Down the street from our hotel, we went to a pizzeria called I galletto briaco trattoria pizzeria which was so yummy, and felt like a total locals spot! We all finished our “personal” pizzas.
Pro tip: when in Italy, you have to get truffles! They’re so perfect on any pasta dish and if you see it on the menu, literally you have to get it at least once. Tuscany’s truffle season is:
White Truffle: October – December
Black Winter Truffle: December – March
Black Summer Truffle: May – September
The Wines in Tuscany
Chianti was first legally defined in 1716 but recognized as a wine region as early as the 13th century. And for a wine to qualify as Chianti wine, it must be produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. If you want to make sure the wines are authentic Consorzio Chianti Classico’s seal of approval – or the famous black rooster symbol.
Querceto di Castellina – This winery is great because not only are they family-run, but they’re a sustainable winery since 1998 and certified organic since 2012! When you’re there you have to pair your wines at the LIVIA wine & cheese bar because how do you say no to cheese?
Antinori nel Chianti Classico – The winery overlooks the countryside from a terrace surrounded by vineyards for their wines. To me, this winery looks very modern compared to the village looking ones, although they did open in the 1300s.
Castello di Albola – This winery does both wine and olive tastings and it’s a hotel as well! We enjoyed the wines and liked the old village type feel.
Castello di Ama – They do a lot of different wines that are their specialty compared to the Chianti Classico. They have grapes that they make Sangiovese, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.
Castello Monterinaldi – They’re located in the center of the historic zone of Classical Chianti and itself is very historic. It has documents that go back to 1010 and the original castle stood until World War II. You’ll see a lot of the black rooster on their wines!
Avignonesi – This winery is lined by Tuscany’s iconic cypress trees and surrounded by beautiful vineyards. If you go, I’d recommend doing “The Cellar Door Experience” to taste the wines in the cellar and you’ll also get local cheeses and meats.
Badia a Coltibuono – They not only have vineyards and olive oil trees – but also chestnut trees. You can do a lot of different combinations of tastings/tours depending on how much time you want to spend there and if you’d like to eat. Ranging from a small tour and tasting to picnics in the vineyards.
Barone Ricasoli – This is the oldest wineries is the Brolio Castle. This is also where the Chianti Classico was created. This was where we had our sunset wine and pairing dinner after the tour of the castle and it’s grounds.
Capezzana – This winery is known as a “trendsetter” because they were the first winery to introduce the Cabernet Sauvignon to its blends.
Tuscany was certainly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. The rolling hills, delicious food, medieval towns, make the Italian region a must on your bucket list. I already can’t wait to go back.
~ XOXO, the Tuscany Obsessed, Amanda // Blonde out of Water