Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Italian Adventure 2011 - Part IV

      As our guided tour of Tuscany continued, our group of ten met each morning for breakfast after resting comfortably in our spacious castle suites. I slept soundly surrounded by the thick stone walls that blocked out all sound and light. The experience was medieval and luxurious at the same time. Magic. After breakfast we regrouped and headed out to destinations such as Cortona, Montepulciano, Montelcino, San Gimignano, and Greve. Each town had it’s own charm and beauty.  At the end of the day we went to a local restaurant or returned to the castle for a gourmet Italian dinner. Wow!  

       Mid week we decided to have a down day to relax at the castle, or visit the nearby spa, and meet back at the castle in the afternoon for a cooking class with Salvatore and Antonio. I must say under the guidance of these exceptional cooks we prepared an amazing meal that we paired with great wine and lots of wonderful companionship.

On our last day we visited Pienza where we sampled the delicious Pecorino cheese, and Montecino, home of the renowned Brunello wine. To end the day Antonio had arranged a tour, wine tasting and dinner, at the home/winery of his friends. The setting was beautiful, the wine luscious and our hosts were friendly and welcoming. Their stunning hillside winery in the heart of the Brunello wine region was aptly named La Fortuna after it was won by the current owners grandfather in a card game. While we toured the winery with the father and son winemakers, their wives were inside preparing what was to be a delectable dinner. The evening could not have been more perfect for our last dinner as a group. Wonderful memories were made that night.

After seven incredible days we returned to Florence, said goodbye to our new friends and began to prepare for our long journey home. From Florence we took the train to Milan where we spent one night and caught a morning flight to San Diego via Atlanta.

Vacations are exciting, but there is no place like home. I missed all my familiar surroundings; kitchen, family room and of course my bed, where I snuggle-in and dream about Italy.

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