Woke at 7am. Sunny and hot.
The breakfast buffet at our B&B was very good! It had the basics: coffee, tea, juice, pastries, cereals and a nice location on the patio.
Yesterday we booked an “Art and Gourmet” tour of Tuscany. Here is the description from the flyer:
- A day amidst art, culture, wine and delicious food… Do you fancy an unforgettable experience in the most impressive places of Tuscany?
- Join us and visit wonderful cities, taste the best wines, cheeses and typical products in one single day.
- Siena: a medieval town, treasure of tradition and history.
Pienza: a papal town famous for its Pecorino cheese.
Montalcino: a winemaking town renowned for its Brunello di Montalcino all over the world.
Montepulciano: a Renaissance town with a great wine tradition thanks to its vintage wine Il Nobile di Montepulciano.
We were to meet our tour guide at the Florence train station at 8:45am. According to the flyer, we are to meet our guide at the clock tower. We had envisioned a tower with a clock – but we did not find such a thing at the Florence train station when we arrived. The only tower we saw was on the church across the street. After some looking around, we finally asked someone at the train station who told us to go out the door, turn left, and go up the steps. We did as we were told. We found our tour next to a wall with a digital clock mounted on it. We were late. People were waiting. Not a good start to our day.
We got the last two seats in the van. I sat by the door in the middle of the van and my DH sat next to our tour guide Alessandro in the front seat. Alessandro was a large sturdy Italian with dark wavy hair, dark sun glasses, a booming voice, and active hands that waved as he spoke. Within a matter of minutes, Alessandro had adopted my DH as his best friend. Alessandro called my DH “Marco” and the two bantered back and forth for much of the tour for the entertainment of the entire group.
The tour begins in Siena in the morning with an authorized guide who showed our group of eight tourists round the city and its medieval buildings. We viewed the Gothic architectural style of the cathedral known as Duomo (very major city in Italy has their own version). We also saw the Palazzo Comunale in Piazza del Campo — this is the theatre of an amazing horse race The Palio. Here are some pictures of Siena:
In the afternoon, Alessandro took us to Montalcino, where we tasted Brunello di Montalcino, the king of wines. Here are some pictures:
The tour continued on to Montepulciano, a town built along a narrow ridge of limestone, surrounded by imposing walls. The flyer says “the stateliness of its Renaissance buildings and the refined beauty of its churches intertwine with the ancient tradition of its wine Nobile di Montepulciano, symbol of the city as well as delight of your palate during the wine tasting in a local winery”. Yep, the place was pretty and the wine fantastic!
Lastly, we visit Pienza, a Renaissance city, is a perfect combination of architectural beauty and harmony. Pienza’s most renowned for its tradition of Pecorino cheese, which we sampled at taste a typical shop. Here are some pictures:
At the end of the tour, Alessandro took us to one of his favorite Tucsany sites — the famous “Tuscan screensaver” site!
Overall, the tour was excellent! Alessandro knew a lot about art, food, and Italian history and he was a master story-teller made all the more charming by being so Italian in his speech and manner. We gave him a generous tip.
We returned to Florence around 6pm. It had been a long day. Back at the hotel room, my DH consulted TripAdvisor to find a good pizza place, I already knew where I wanted to get my gelato – GROM! We settled on a pizza place right next to GROM called Le Bertucce so we would not have to walk too far – it was still pretty hot outside, even at 8pm in the evening. The pizza was good and cheap, just how my DH likes it. The gelato was cool and expensive, just how I liked it! We both had a satisfying day!
#1 Quote of the Day: “Marco! I am thinking about having a beautiful lunch and you ask me about work – what da matta with chew?” – Alessandro to my DH.
#2 Quote of the Day: “Marco, you bad boy! I am sure your wife is very smart!” – Alessandro to my DH when he mentioned that I usually talk more than I have today.
#3 Quote of the Day: “I know!” – Alessandro to me when I mentioned that his Mercedes Benz van was very nice.
#4 Quote of the Day: “Marco, tell me something I don’t know!” — Alessandro to my DH when he complemented him on his driving skills.