The 24 hours spent in Tuscany was one of my favorite days on the 2 week Europe trip! Why? One word: LUCA. Before I get to what the heck Luca means, let me tell you what we did in the morning!
Our home base for this trip was Florence. We didn't end up planning much in Florence beyond the duomo and a few spots we had to eat and drink (which I will tell you about next week.) Instead, we planned two excursions in Tuscany.
Excursion #1: Tuscany Wine Tasting Tour from Florence
What is Tuscany without wine! We chose a tour that took us out in the morning and got us back in time to do another excursion that evening. There are also a bunch of reviews of the particular one we chose.
The meeting point was a bit tricky at first as we used Google Maps to navigate to the address provided on the ticket. If you read a bit more, it will actually tell you to navigate here:
We quickly connected with a few other couples on the trip and grouped up with them so we could all ride in the same van.
Stop #1: We were first taken to Medici Villa of Lilliano Wine Estate where we were taken on a tour of the grounds. This Villa has some pretty amazing views! We then moved to the wine cellar, which was full of large wine barrels, and super old wine bottles! We then made our way to their tasting room where we tried 3 styles of wine and bread dipped in their olive oil made in house! I could have had a full loaf of bread dipped in that olive oil!
Stop #2: We then were taken to Villa Torre Rosa. There is a museum set up to show you how hand pressing olive oil used to be. The machinery and the process used to press olives is hard to believe! We were also given a lesson on how to taste olive oil by taking a sip, swishing it in your mouth and swallowing (or spitting). You can feel the slight burn as it goes down. There are also different things to look for when purchasing olive oil in stores:
Stop #3: We were then taken to Relais Villa Olmo for a traditional Chianti wine tasting. You can actually stay here! The grounds are beautiful and so quiet! We were taken in to 2 different rooms where we tried both red and white varieties! We ended up taking home a bottle of Rose.
Stop #4: The final stop on this tour was to lunch. This wasn't just any lunch. It was a FULL spread with meats, cheeses, fruits, pasta and more! We didn't know how many courses we were going to have so I didn't pace myself very well.
Overall, I highly recommend this tour if you don't have a ton of time in Florence / Tuscany. It is a great way to try some good wine and get out in the country side.
Excursion #2: Pizza and Gelato Making Class at a Tuscan Farm
We met our group at the tour company headquarters where we then walked for about 5 minutes to meet our bus. We were taken about 20 minutes outside Florence and were dropped off on a main road where we were met by one of our guides. She walked us down a neighborhood road where we passed several mansions. Once we got on the grounds of the farm, we were greeted with wine (or beer) and a quick snack. We were guided through the garden and into the farmhouse where we started in on the gelato.
There was about 26 people on this tour and about 13 different gelato recipes. Each team of 2 got to make one that we would all share with the group later. I didn't realize, but gelato is actually pretty easy to make! It is all about precise measurements and blending all your ingredients together well before adding it to the gelato maker.
While the gelato is being made, we moved outside and had a lesson on making pizza dough! This was where it got really fun and interesting. Our friend Trevor was picked as one of the people to go help prepare some of the ingredients. He was chosen to help crush the tomatoes for our tomato paste. Watch the video and you will see what I mean...
We then got to go in groups of 4 to prep our dough and add whatever toppings we want. If you have never had zucchini flower on your pizza you absolutely need to! It is my new favorite topping!
After dinner we all the gelatos came out. We got to basically try any or all the flavors we wanted.
Overall, this was an amazing day spent in Tuscany with two great half day excursions!