From Rome, we rented a car and went north about 3 hours to Montepulciano in southern Tuscany. There are two important things you need to know about this drive.
1) Jeff is the best driver ever. Our Roman friends were quite literally out for blood. Cars on the shoulder. Absurd lane changes. I’m not sure if I would drive in Rome with anyone else. Thank you, Jeffery. He would later to go on to master the tight turns of the village towns of Tuscany. Impressive all around.
2) We discovered that Italian food gets even better outside of Rome. Don’t get me wrong we ate well in Roma, but our first lunch in the Italian countryside began a long list of omygoodness this is the best thing I have ever tasted. I actually think I could make this entire blog post just about food.
This bruschetta may look simple, but it was out of this world. No hyperbole best tomatoes I have ever had. We then had two more courses.
The aim for this part of of trip was to just relax and enjoy the countryside. We had seen so much since my parents arrived it was wonderful to wander with little agenda.
Airbnb won again with a little villa overlooking the expanse of local vineyards.
Tuscany in the winter might be somewhat absent of its famous sun, but it also lacked its famous crowds. This meant we got to wander through the hills of village towns without jostling for the best views or the best seats.
As a result, more food was eaten and more wine was enjoyed.
We actually only had one scheduled activity our whole time in Tuscany, a visit to a small vineyard down the road from our villa. We met the owner/manager of the vineyard, a young woman named Maria Louisa, who was working to revitalize her family’s company.
We walked through the rows and rows of vines as she explained the different grapes produced in the valley’s micro-climate, and marveled at the wine maturing in massive casks.
Do you know that every 5 years or so a very small man (her words, not mine) climbs into the casks through the spout hole to clean them? Maria Louisa assured us they weren’t claustrophobic, but it made by 6’4” father very nervous.
We ended the tour with a very generous tasting of Palazzo Vecchio’s full line. Italians don’t mess around with splashes of wine here or there, and not to be rude I wanted to finish each glass. Thankfully we stopped sooner than I expected!
We enjoyed our time with Maria Louisa so much, we came back the next day for lunch. In addition to managing the vineyard and the tasting room, she prepares handmade pasta and soups with ingredients fresh from the vineyard’s garden. It was incredible, and we got to enjoy more time with a new friend. I 100% expect to one day see Maria Louisa again on her business travels to the States. We are on her email list.
We planned to visit a few more vineyard’s while in Tuscany, but we had so much fun just wandering it didn’t seem necessary. All too quickly we were headed back to Rome to put my parents on a plane. We were so lucky to have spent this time with them and look forward to our next adventure together!
We flew back to Edinburgh that morning with a beautiful view of the Alps. In just a few weeks we would land in Geneva to enjoy them with Trevor and Rachel.