This is the second part on the Tuscany Wine Country Series. If you missed my blog on Florence, you can read it here.
This is the Tuscany I love. Check out the loop you can do from Florence to beautiful Siena by car. Each town is stunning – and you can get a wine tour for free. The degustazione includes: bread, olive oil and wine. If you are a wine connoisseur, this is Super Tuscan Country!
Bagni di Lucca
I started by taking the autostrada A11 from Florence to Pisa and went north to Bagni di Lucca to hit the spas. This city is well-known for its thermal springs that go back to the Etruscan and Roman ages. I bought a package for the whole day that included lunch, access to the sauna (it was in a natural cave!), the spa, a massage and a facial. If you want to be treated like a queen, Bagni di Lucca is the place to be. There are many spas there. You can pick any. They are all extraordinary.
Caption: Enjoying a spa at Bagni di Lucca
I then stopped in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: Lucca. This is Renaissance city with walls encircling its historic center. The cobblestone streets transport you back in history. If you love the opera as much as I do, you will be happy to know that Luca is Puccini’s birthplace. He authored Madame Butterfly.
Then, I went down and hit Pisa. Now, everybody wants to come to Pisa and see the Torre pendente di Pisa (Leaning Tower of Pisa), however, there are so many other landmarks you need to see: Palazzo della Carovana, the façade of Santa Maria della Spina, a white marble church alongside the Arno.
Caption: Doesn’t every tourist do this?
From Pisa, I headed East to Impruneta. By the way, if you are going to drive in Italy I would recommend two things: when you make a reservation, ask for an automatic car and a GPS. You won’t get it if you don’t specify that from the beginning.
Anyway, I drove with Grasshopper thru the beautiful olive oil hills of Impruneta I love so much. This is terracotta town: you can find vases, flowerpots, name plaques – literally everything made from clay.
Caption: Beautiful Impruneta
Head to the center plaza, but before that, stop at Fattoria di Bagnolo, great winery I visited. I knocked on the door because I didn’t have a reservation (you do not really need one, it’s Italy’s country side!) and this Roman God emerged. He prepared a few Chiantis and Super Tuscans for me to try. Needless to say, the variety was delicious. The wine is sensational in this region because it is aged in terracota amphorae. Trust me, you won’t want to leave. If you want to grab a bite, I would recommend heading a few miles up to La Loggettina – the cutest, tiny, incredible restaurant. I have been twice. The customer service is superb, the pizzas are their specialty – and the owner speaks perfect English.
Caption: At La Loggettina with the most incredible pizza I’ve ever tasted.
Greve in Chianti
If what you want to do is keeping drinking wine (alas, who are we kidding?), head down to Greve in Chianti. There are so many wineries that you won’t know where to stop. You do not need a reservation and can hop from place to place and after a few drinks, make friends. Notice I am not encouraging you to drink and drive, but I am asking you to drive thru this adorable town. I befriended the lady at one of the wineries and she gave us a great tour taking the time to explain the crushing and fermentation process to make wine.
Caption: Greve in Chianti
From there, look at the map and drive down South and hit the following towns: Panzano, Radda, Castelina, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and Poggibonsi. Each medieval city had its own personality and beauty – especially Sam Giminiano, another breathtaking walled city.
Caption: At an Enoteca in San Gimignano and at a vineyard in Panzano.
The goal should be to go down all the way to Siena. That is a city you do not want to skip.
When you arrive in Siena you will be greeted by a tons of statues of the she-wolf who suckled Remus and Romulus. You heard the story. It turns out, Siena was founded by Remus’ son. Here are some of the landmarks you do not want to miss in this city: The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia. Then, head over to see the Duomo of Siena and the Sala del Concistoro, a collection of phenomenal frescoes. However, if you are into art, you won’t want to stay away from the Sala del Mappamondo and the Sala della Pace. These two places house the most magnificent group of Medieval paintings you will find in the world.
Caption: The Palazzo Pubblico in Siena
Make plans to visit “Toscana.” Here’s are two maps of all the cities I mention in this blog. Enjoy your trip and follow me around the world
Start in Florence and go to: Bagni di Lucca, Lucca and Pisa (travel West).
From Pisa go to Impruneta, Greve in Chianti, Panzano, Rada, Castelina, San Giminiano and end in Siena.
Did you miss my blog on Florence? Read it HERE!