Journey to Italy – Tuscany Stole My Heart

Venturing into the Chianti wine region of Tuscany was the part of our trip to Italy I was waiting for. Exploring this world-famous region was the highlight of our journey for me. Tuscany was everything I hoped for, with its picturesque landscapes, historical heritage, and exceptional wines. It turned a dream into reality, and I really did leave a piece of my heart in this magical part of the world.

Please be forewarned—if you plan, like us, to rent a car and drive through Tuscany, you will most likely get lost, or at least think you are lost. That’s part of travelling abroad. If you prepare for it, you can enjoy places you didn’t expect to see on the way to the places you wanted to see.

The Wine Regions of Tuscany

Tuscany is made up of several wine regions, each offering wines with unique characteristics and flavours. Chianti is perhaps the most famous – known for its Sangiovese-based wines. The Chianti Classico subregion, nestled between Florence and Siena, is particularly well known, and that is where we had the privilege of spending three amazing days.

Other regions of Tuscany include Brunello di Montalcino, centred around the town of Montalcino. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, from the town of Montepulciano, offers another Sangiovese, known locally as Prugnolo Gentile. Along the Tuscan coast, Bolgheri has gained international acclaim for its Super Tuscan wines. These bold wines are not my favourite, as I discovered. Lastly, the Maremma region (also on the coast) produces wines ranging from elegant whites to robust reds, reflecting the area’s varied microclimates and innovative winemaking approaches.

Poggio Torselli Villa and Winery

We were fortunate to have the chance to visit the breathtaking estate of Poggio Torselli. First registered in 1427, the villa is in the hills surrounding the village of San Casciano in Val di Pesa. I shed a few tears of joy when we drove into the parking lot. It was exactly how I had envisaged an estate in the hills of Tuscany – but even better. It’s hard to describe the feeling, but if you’ve ever taken a dream trip, you’ll know what I mean.

Our host, Matteo Faggioli, was incredibly passionate about wine and the winery, and his enthusiasm was quite infectious. Because he grew up farming grapes and making wine, he has a wealth of knowledge. We learned about the various microclimates on the estate and how each produced a specific variety of grapes. Then, we toured the state-of-the-art winemaking facility built on the estate in 2003. Finally, we finished our afternoon with a tasting and pairing that was second to none. Not only do they produce some excellent wines, but also some darn tasty olive oil.

I enjoy wine and cheese, but I really enjoy architecture and design. The only spaces on the estate open to the public are the ballroom and the chapel. I’m sure I spent most of the time in the former ballroom space with my mouth hanging open in awe. The architecture was absolutely mind-blowing!

It was an experience I will never forget. Thank you, Matteo!

Our Stay in the Village of Volpaia

When we started researching our trip to Italy, our travel companion put together a budget for us to work from. He knew that staying at a winery was the one thing I really, really wanted to do on this trip. Somehow, his search for approximate pricing led him to discover the Volpaia winery—not that it was necessarily our destination.

I dug around for other hotels on a vineyard estate in the Chianti region but kept returning to Volpaia for some reason. You have no idea how happy we were to experience this magical historic village in the hills of Tuscany.

The hotel manager, Lorenzo, was an absolute delight. He took amazing care of us despite being busy with other guests and visitors. We learned that 29 people live in the village throughout the year. It’s hard to imagine living in such a remote location year-round with so few people. However, I’m sure they keep busy maintaining the ancient buildings and tending to the expansive vineyard surrounding the village.

The hotel rooms are in several different buildings. Even though the buildings are hundreds of years old, they renovated the rooms to include all the modern conveniences. The design aesthetic was tasteful and perfectly combined the old with the new. I am still in awe. We chose the ‘Country Superior’ rooms, which were absolutely lovely. Our stay included a hot breakfast in a gorgeous building just a one-minute walk from our rooms.

During our 3-night stay, we ate at each of the three on-site restaurants. The closest off-site restaurant was a 20-minute drive away, so we decided to immerse ourselves in the experience and stay there. We were not disappointed. It was so relaxing to hang out during the day, walk the tiny streets, enter the vineyard, enjoy pre-dinner cocktails, and then dine right there. All three meals were different yet delicious, and each restaurant had its own unique vibe. We also enjoyed lunch in their lovely little pizza shop and cafe.

I highly recommend staying at Volpaia if you’re planning a trip to Italy. We were there in early April, which is technically the off-season. However, I’m not sure how busy it would be later in the year. Additionally, it is very remote, so if you want to go off-site to explore, you will need to rent a car. Please note that before the Easter holiday, the restaurants are closed, so consider that when planning your vacation.

I will be forever grateful for this opportunity, and I dream of returning because Tuscany stole my heart.

Read more articles in the My Journey to Italy series.

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