Europe // Italy Part III (Florence)

We spent our second full day in Florence not actually in Florence, but in the Tuscany region. Kevin knew going into this trip that he wanted to see the Tuscan countryside and I agreed it was probably pretty, but I was in awe at how beautiful this area really was.

When researching how to get out there, Kevin came across a tour company with really good reviews. We didn’t do many tours on our trip (only two the entire time), and instead saw the sights on our own free will, but I’d highly recommend Fun in Tuscany as the best way to visit this region.

We did the all-day Vespa tour and met our group in Florence early in the morning so they could take us out to Tuscany. Before we got on the freeway, our driver made a quick pit stop for our small group of five to see the amazing Piazzale Michelangelo. I mean, look at this view!

We drove about an hour outside of Florence and got to know our group pretty well. We were with three girls who were from Colorado but studying abroad in Prague. Our tour guide, Daniel, was hilarious and made the drive go by fast with his stories of growing up in Florence.

When we got to the winery, we had to take a test drive on the Vespas before we ventured out anywhere. I was planning on riding on the back of Kevin the whole time, but when I found out everyone else was driving, I figured I’d try to. Very long story short, I was told I wasn’t coordinated enough to drive one, so I had to ride on the back of Daniel (they don’t let first time drivers have anyone ride with them). Obviously I was pissy about that because 1. I don’t like being told no and 2. I am coordinated; I just don’t think they just didn’t let me go around enough! But whatever, I figured I should definitely not let that ruin my day. Kevin, however, thought me not being allowed to drive was the funniest thing ever.

I made myself feel better after realizing I’d look like this goofball if I actually drove one. 😉

So once we were on the Vespas, we rode up to San Gimignano, a beautiful medieval town from the third century. We stopped a few different times to take pictures of the countryside, and if you look closely in the below photo, you can see the town’s towers way up ahead.

There were vines of grapes everywhere, so we knew we were in wine country!

Okay so San Gimignano was an unexpected surprise. The town is tiny, old and completely perfect.

There is one main road – the Via Francigena – which is an ancient road that goes from France to Rome. It was apparently the road Catholics used on their pilgrimage to get to the Vatican. Daniel took us around and explained various buildings, towers and architecture.

As I did with every place we visited on this trip, I picked out my retirement home. So in 35 years, you can find me residing here…

Daniel made sure we all stopped at Gelateria Dondoli, which was named the “world’s best gelato” in the annual Gelato World Cup and I will say it was hands down, the best gelato I had in all of Italy.

Before we left San Gimignano and got back on our Vespas, we took a few more photos of this view. Un.Real.

The wine portion of our trip was after driving Vespas (smart). We visited Torciano Winery, a family-owned winery since 1720. The 15th generation Giachi family now operates the winery and our guide was one of the great-great-great (x infinity) granddaughters.

We tasted 11 wines and despite the spit buckets and rapid pace at which they poured different wines, we chugged ’em all like classy Americans do.

The wines were paired with a four-course lunch, which was good but actually nothing too memorable. But… maybe that was the wine’s fault?

We wrapped up the day with a parting toast of sparking wine and photos outside the family’s estate. And yes, I realize I’m wearing basically the same outfit in every picture. #packedlight

We were nice and tipsy on our drive back to Florence. Daniel played some 2000s hip hop and was impressed with all of our car karaoke skills.

Once we were back to our hotel, we thought more wine was a good idea so we got a bottle and sat outside in the hotel’s backyard and played cards. Fun fact: Kevin and I have a Rummy game that we’ve been keeping score of since we met 10 years ago. We just add onto our score and I made up some serious ground in Italy. Think I may finally have broken 10,000 points!

Eventually we made our way out to the city for pizza. Restaurants in Italy usually charge for tap water (or bottled), so I decided we needed MORE wine since it was cheaper to buy wine than water. But I accidentally ordered a liter of wine (aka, more than a bottle) so we ended up buying bottled water so we could take the wine home with us in said water bottle since we couldn’t drink it all at dinner.

We’re verrrry classy.

I think we both crashed by 9 p.m.

Next up is my very favorite place in the world: Cinque Terre!

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