Tuscan Wine Tour – July 2014

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LUCCA & MONTECARLO, TOSCANA

My husband and I were fortunate enough to have friends visit this summer, and what better thing to do with friends in Tuscany but go on a private wine tour for a day. I used a local tour group called Not Ordinary Ways. We partook in the Lucca Wine Tour. It is a little more expensive than other local wine tours, but it is a private tour and much better than the last wine tour I took that was less expensive.

We started by visiting a small boutique winery in the hills of Lucca called Fabbrica di San Martino. This is a family owned winery. One of the family members gave us an hour lecture on horticulture in the hot Italian sun. He was so enthusiastic about how they grow their grapesDSC_3196 and the advances that they have made, that no matter how hot we were getting, we would not interrupt him except if we had questions. From the vines, he took us on a tour of the villa that is part of the winery. The building is absolutely stunning (see image below). People can actually stay in this villa on vacation. There are numerous frescos and a piano that Puccini would occasionally play on. After the tour, we sat together and enjoyed many bottles of delicious wine. We enjoyed each type of wine so much that we all went home with bottles of our own.

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Our second stop was a larger winery called Fattoria di Fubbiano. Before touring the production center, we took in the amazing tuscan views surrounding the winery. Then we moved indoors to see the large wine barrels. This was a very different winery and visit from the first one and I liked that about this wine tour. It gave us two different perspectives. Fattoria di Fubbiano was less intimate than San Martino. I felt that the wine was a bit less enjoyable, but we did enjoy putting Acacia honey on all the snacks that they served with the wine.

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Overall it was a full day of beautiful sites, delicious wine and great company.

 

ITALY (2013)

Since I moved to Lucca, Italy in August, I have explored some areas of Italy. Here is a summary of some of the places I have gone in 2013.

LUCCA, TOSCANA

Lucca

As Lucca is now my hometown, I have explored most of it by this point. Some highlights would include the 500 year old walls that surround the city center, San Michele Cathedral, the Duomo, Tower Guinigi, and Piazza Napoleone. It was also the home of the famous opera composer, Giacomo Puccini.

VIARREGIO, TOSCANA

Viarregio

For a brief reprieve in the summer months, many Italians in the Tuscany region go to the beach town of Viareggio. It is only a 30 minute bus ride from Lucca. There are free beaches, but my husband and I prefer one that we have to pay a fee for. It is an affordable fee and includes your own spot with umbrellas on the beach, a separate private pool, wi-fi, clean restrooms and will lock up your belongings while you swim. My husband and I found that if you go early in the morning, the beach is not crowded at all.

MONTECARLO, TOSCANA

Montecarlo

I visited Montecarlo for the wine festival in September. Montecarlo has some of the best wine in the region in my opinion.

PISTOIA, TOSCANA

Pistoia Piazza

I visited Pistoia in September when it was still tourist season in Lucca. I found Pistoia was similar to Lucca as it was another small Tuscan town. However, it was void of the crowds of tourists, so I enjoyed the peacefulness I found there.

PORTO VENERE, LIGURIA

portovenere

Porto Venere is located next to the popular coastal area of Cinque Terre. You can take a ferry from La Spezia to get to Porto Venere. The famous poet, Lord Byron, found this town inspirational. It is no wonder why. This town is very beautiful! We went in October. The weather was perfect!

FLORENCE, TOSCANA

Florence Duomo

As far as popular tourist cities in Italy, Florence (Firenze) is at the top of the list with Rome, Venice, and Pisa. I have been to all the other big cities in Italy but had never been to Florence. Florence is my favorite big city for sure. It is an hour and a half train ride from Lucca. Florence statueIn just one day, my husband and I were able to visit the Duomo, Bargello (Museo Nazionale – best known for housing Donatello’s “David” statue), Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio (famous bridge over the Arno River that survived World War II), San Lorenzo market, and Santa Croce (houses the tombs of famous Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini, and more). You do not need reservations to see any of those sites. During tourist season you will have to make reservations to see Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’ Academia, which houses Michelangelo’s “David.” I haven’t seen either of those galleries yet but will make it there next year. Florence has provoked a delight in statues that I never had before.

Ponte Vecchio