I’ve been living in Florence for a year and a half and yet, there are still many places in Tuscany that I haven’t got around visiting. It therefore comes as no surprise that when the lovely team from the Walks of Italy invited me to join them on their Tuscany tour, I jumped at the opportunity.
It wasn’t until a couple of days before the trip when the potential horror that I’ve always associated with organised tours kicked in. With the eyes of my imagination, I saw myself surrounded by a group of tourists armed with selfie sticks, marching one by one behind the tour leader holding a flagpole – an all too familiar sight in Florence.
Well, I’m pleased to tell you that I was completely and utterly wrong! So wrong in fact that if you happen to be visiting Tuscany this summer but are short on time and don’t want to go through the hassle of renting a car and figuring out your way through the Tuscan roads, I wholeheartedly recommend going on an adventure with The Walks of Italy. Keep reading to find out why!
Having met everyone at Piazza Della Repubblica, I was pleased to find out that the group was small and made up of about 8 people, mostly Americans, which made it feel more like a regular day trip than an organised tour. Ismael, the tour leader, was friendly and as it turned out, extremely knowledgeable about Tuscany – most importantly though, there were no flagpoles in sight!
Our first stop after taking a few compulsory photos at Piazzale Michelangelo, a popular spot with great views of Florence, was Siena. This was my second trip to the town but my first time visiting the Siena Cathedral which turned out to house quite possibly the most impressive interior that I had the pleasure to see in Tuscany.
We have then headed to Chianti, green hills and vineyards passing by in the window. The plan was to enjoy a few hours of wine tasting and a traditional Tuscan lunch. All my previous concerns evaporated like a mist the moment the smell of freshly cooked food welcomed us at our destination, a stone-built estate surrounded by lavender bushes, olive groves and a large vineyard at the back. Dreamt into life by Silvano, a former vet who decided to follow his passion for wine and become a winemaker, the villa looked like it came straight out of glossy pages of a travel magazine.
The time spent at the vineyard was a delightful blur of delicious wine and organic food prepared with love and care, with Chianti hills and the vineyard as our background. In a state that can only be described as a food coma combined with blissful contentment, we headed off to San Gimignano. It’s one of my favourite Tuscan towns so I was excited for the visit. Stepping inside its medieval walls always feels like going back in time – as soon as you turn into narrow alleyways, avoiding souvenir stores covering most of the main street that is!
The final stop was a nearby vigna overlooking the Tuscan hills with the silhouette of San Gimignano hanging in the distance. While the wine wasn’t a match for what we enjoyed at our previous stop, the views and the fast-approaching sunset casting long shadows over the hills most certainly made up for it.
The verdict? I had an absolutely fabulous time (and this is not just the delicious wine talking!). If you’d like to recreate my experience, head to Walks of Italy and book your tour – and don’t forget to tell them you I sent you! 😉
Have you ever been to Tuscany? What is your favourite place to visit? Let me know in the comments!