The Beauty of Tuscany

The Beauty of Tuscany

Endless Travel 365

We met in Vegas. Yes, we said Vegas. What happened there in August 2012 didn’t stay there. We moved to Denver in January 2013, got married in May 2017, and haven’t looked back since, except on our many adventures together!

Florence , or Firenze as the locals call it, was one of our favorite spots in Italy. It stands out as more of a hidden gem, maybe a little less popular, in terms of bigger cities in Italy. We were able to stay in a 4-star, boutique Bed and Breakfast called Residenza Castiglioni at 33% off thanks to our amazing travel membership. This hotel was so quaint, staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and the breakfast was delicious!

Once settled in our hotel, we ventured out in the city in search of food. We found this really amazing restaurant called Move On, which is an Italian pub with a record store vibe, right on the Duomo square. It also has an actual record store in the basement.

After recharging and regaining some energy from the pub, we began wandering down the streets of Firenze. We stumbled upon countless shops, castles, and cathedrals, marveling at the architecture and uniqueness of the city. The sunset was equally as incredible to watch from one of the many bridges throughout the city.

As it grew dark, we heard a strange noise in the distance. We started walking toward the sound and it grew louder and louder. We turned the final corner and noticed several grey-ish looking specks in the sky. Lindsay thought they were bats at first, which is terrifying, but as we got closer we determined they were thousands of birds flocking to and from the trees outside a cathedral. They left in groups and returned in groups. All the while screeching through the night. Justin got really close to one of the trees and ended up getting pooped on. The odds were never in his favor.

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The next day was Lindsay’s birthday and we decided to take a day trip to Tuscany – a bucket list item now checked off. We went with My Tours on their Tuscany in a Day tour, which included the village of San Gimignano, the Chianti area, the Medieval town of Siena, and the Monteriggioni medieval fortress. Well worth the 50 Euros each.

San Gimignano is a Medieval urban town; in fact it is a UNESCO world heritage site. You will notice dozens of towers in the architecture. We found out that the taller the tower, the more power the family had. We were able to walk up to the top of the tallest tower (55 meters) for an amazing panoramic view of the village.

From there, we hopped on the bus to the Chianti area to Poggio Amorelli for wine, olive oil, and balsamic tasting along with a traditional Tuscan lunch consisting of pasta, cured meats, cheeses and local pastries. We learned that there are certain types of olive oil that you use only after cooking, balsamic should only consist of two ingredients – grapes and vinegar, and if your bottle of Chianti doesn’t have a symbol of a rooster on it then it’s not authentic. We got to try a full spectrum of wines including their specialty – Chianti Reserve. Lindsay says it was the best birthday ever.

After our indulgence, we moved on to the Monteriggioni fortress.  Siena and Florence were rivals back in the day and the castle is said to have defended Siena against attacks. It’s very small compared to other fortresses we’ve seen, but still magnificent and eclectic.

Final stop on this tour was Siena. We went on a guided walking tour of the city center. Alice, our guide bought our small group delicious Italian cookies to try as we walked. A nice treat. We learned that the street Via Francigena goes all the way from Canterbury, England to Rome , Italy. We visited the Town Hall in the Piazza del Campo, scenery of the world famous Palio horse race.

After our walking tour ended, we have a few hours to explore on our own. We stopped in a pub overlooking the piazza and imagined the horses rounding the turns while crowds of people were cheering them on. We then wandered into the Duomo di Siena. Now, up to this point on our European tour, we’ve seen several impressive cathedrals, but this one takes the cake. As we mentioned, Italians have a way of trying to one-up each other and Siena really outdid themselves with the architecture of this cathedral. Not one inch was left without detail. The photos don’t even do it justice. Not even close. A bucket list item we didn’t know existed, but glad to add and cross it off all at once.

Enjoy the ride!

Justin and Lindsay

 

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