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Sunday, December 1

Tuscany- Part I

After Dublin Ireland, this was our 2nd trip, traveling with friends. Although we’ve traveled with family this year, we wanted to make this trip with some friends. When they suggested a trip to the Tuscany region of Italy for wine and food, we agreed, of course.

There was weeks of planning that went into this trip. We were going with someone that’s a planner, like myself. We had 2 days of wine tastings planned, 1 daytrip to a city and another day to relax and take-in Tuscany.

After arriving on Wednesday evening, we had 20 minutes to unload our car and drive to dinner. We asked our Villa host directions to the restaurant and she said, in broken English, at the end of the road, turn left. Of course our GPS gave us an alternate route. Relying too much on technology, we followed the GPS and were completely lost. Thankfully with a phone call to the restaurant and directions, we got there 10 minutes after 8pm.

We ate at Agriturismo Il Vecchio Maneggi, communal style with 10 other guests. The host is a nonna that loves to feed her guests until we can’t eat anymore. We had multiple courses of cured meats, Farro soup, gnocchi, pork with saffron laced potatoes and salad, local (pecorino) cheeses and dessert. Our favorite were the farro soup, mashed potatoes with saffron and the cheeses with honey. There was always a full bottle of house wine on the table so unlimited wine was a bonus. The price is reasonable and the meal is worth the trek out to this agriturismo. During dinner, we learned they have few rooms for guests to stay and offer cooking classes. And if all that weren’t enough, they sell housemade wine, honey and oil on site.

The next day we left early and headed to Greve for wine tastings. First was Castello di Verrazzano for a beautiful view of the heart of Tuscany. The tour was engaging, especially the cellar with their iced grapes for dessert wine and displaying barrels of chianti.

Next was Castello Vicchiomaggio, down the street and across the hilltop from the first. We had the opportunity to try their wine at the shop and then walk around the winery’s garden, church and premises. For good views, both of these wineries in Greve are the place to visit on a beautiful, sunny day. For lunch in Greve, we stopped in at Enoteca Fuoripiazza in the smaller square. I recommend this for a quick lunch amidst wine tastings. It doesn’t offer gastronomic treasure of Tuscan specialties however the pasta and the meat dishes were fair. The restaurant host suggested we walk to the main square in Greve. The square is small and charming with a bread shop, butcher shop and a city building.

While driving to the next winery the husband pulled into an unassuming winery with a “We sell wine” sign. We rang the cowbell hanging on the door and within minutes pulled up a woman in her car. We tried their house wine as well as olive oils to buy. The husband and I were impressed with both. It was one of the most inexpensive wines we’d bought on the entire trip, costing 6-7 Euros/bottle.

Another winery we visited was Fattoria le Fonti which is impossible to find in the hilly town of Panzano. Although there are signs, we were going in circles trying to find the place. At last, we did find it and had a brief tasting. The woman that was doing the tasting was from Germany and interning for a short time. It was fun to speak German with her. She explained the owner is German who quit his job and bought the winery and works there full time. What a dream come true.

Dinner was at Taverna Bibbiano. That particular evening was Latin night with karaoke music and buffet. We opted out of that option and ordered a la carte from the menu. Instead of ordering by courses, we ordered an appetizer, a meat dish, and pasta, all to share. Our friends ordered three pastas to share. Our wild boar (chiangale) ragu with polenta was good however the polenta was cold, disappointing. And our friends said their risotto wasn’t very good. Other dishes were fine; the dinner was average. Although the meal wasn’t memorable, the evening was. When we were almost finished with our meal, we saw people run after something with big sticks. With the help of another restaurant guest, we learned there was a thief and they were chasing him off property. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen or heard of someone running after a thief with a wooden stick.


  1. what a lovely post. really makes me jealous. I'm glad to see you traveling and writing some more. Keep at it!