I’ve been in love with Tuscany for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure if I’d seen it in old movies I used to watch with Mum on a Sunday afternoon, but I always had visions of the Tuscan countryside, beautiful blue skies, the never-ending rows of vines and the old stone towers of medieval fortresses rising from the hill tops.
So when we had chance to spend a month in Italy during our big overseas sabbatical a few years ago, there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to spend a week staying in an agriturismo in the Tuscan countryside!
Hubby was considerably trusting of my choice of location for the week. That may sound odd so let me explain. Even though officially this travel blog is known as “The Amateur Adventurer”, it is otherwise known among hubby’s friends and family as “101 Ways to Torture your Husband and other Handy Tips” – as testified to by the weird and wonderful places and things he has to see and do. I actually didn’t torture him at all during our time in Italy – though coming to a dead stop in the middle lane of the autostrada toll gates because I couldn’t read Italian gave us slightly more than mild heart attacks!
But I digress…
After much research I settled on a fabulous little winery called Fattoria San Donato – a couple of kilometers outside of San Gimignano. This was a beautiful farmhouse and medieval village that was purchased by the Fenzi family in the 1930’s. The old buildings have been turned into self catering apartments.
It was friendly, warm and the family were welcoming, making sure we always had good wine and good food. Many a night they would put on a Tuscan banquet for their guests, serving up the traditional fare of the area, along with their own wines.
After the big cities, it was amusing to see the local trucks from the nearby farms pottering along the road. No one was in a hurry (unusual, I would have thought for Italian drivers) and you just had to go with the flow.
You cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot stay in Tuscany without tasting the local wines. In Australia we are so used to the high taxes on alcohol, and any wine of a decent vintage would set you back a fair penny. I was also a fan of “new world” wines. So wasn’t sure how I would go with the more traditionally and older wines of Italy.
Let’s just say I am a massive convert. Because of the importance of the industry in Italy and the subsidies from the government, Italian wine – and decent wine as well – is so cheap. Almost worth moving there permanently!
The medieval fair in San Gimignano is an annual event held every June and all the locals get involved, it’s a fun couple of days if you are in the area, which we were lucky enough to be.
Street theatre is abundant in San Gimignano – always something to see.
San Gimignano is known for it’s towers, a famous iconic image across the Tuscan landscape. Today there are 14 left intact from an original 72. However they are the most complete example of towers through out the region.
Tuscany is full of small hill top villages and it’s worth hiring car and going for a drive around the countryside – or better yet see some of these villages on a wine tour and let someone else do the driving.
After a week in Tuscany I was pretty sure I was actually Italian and must have got mixed up somewhere at birth 🙂 Would happily trade everything in and live there – at least for a few years.