Oh yes! That was my answer when I was invited to a friend’s weeklong milestone-birthday celebration at a Tuscan villa. Although I have been to Italy numerous times over the years, I’d never been to Tuscany. Despite my love of all things Italian from coffee and pasta to art and history, in my recent travels I have exchanged Europe’s accessibility for more exotic far eastern locales. Still you would be crazy to decline a week in Tuscany, touted as one of the most beautifully romantic and vibrantly picturesque places on earth.
To describe the landscape of the region break out the adjectives, add a generous helping of superlatives and you have the loveliest-quaint-bucolic-most serene Tuscan countryside. Cypress trees, vineyards and olive groves dance along the rolling hills and intermittently scattered along the vast tracks of fertile fields are charming towns which provide endless potential for day-tripping adventures. While Florence is as marvelous as Pisa is infamous, Lucca, Volterra, Siena, San Gimignano and many, many more are well-worth a sojourn.
Another local pursuit is winery-hopping, the Italian version of a pub crawl, and each vineyard has its own unique history, barrel methodology and tasting choices. You may not know your Brunello di Montalcino from your Vino di Nobile di Montepulciano but touring the wineries is a master class in the Sangiovese grape and the art of the vine. Some of the most interesting were Castello Banfi l’Enoteca ~ a castle in a gorgeous location with lovely people and delicious wine; Casato Prime Donne ~ despite being a traditionally male dominated profession, the winemakers here are all women and this vineyard produces bottles of Cenerentola or “Cinderella;” Villa Le Corti ~ wine is literally on tap but unfortunately the proprietress-owner is a most unpleasant Duchess; Fattoria Corzano e Paterno ~ Arianna and her family run this vineyard, farm and working dairy which produces artisanal sheep cheeses making tastings especially scrumptious; Antinori’s Badia di Passignano ~ in the Chianti Classico region, barrels here are aged in the property’s 4th century monastery and you should not miss an exquisite dinner with wine pairings at Osteria di Passignano.
After a day’s indulgence you need somewhere to lay your head. Accommodation options in Tuscany are plentiful but if you are traveling with friends why not rent a villa; for roughly $12K per week you can stay at Enzo and Annagloria Corti’s spectacular Villa Torre Il Santo located in Tavernelle in Val di Pesa. Ah, la dolce vita.