Today was our last full day in Italy, and we spent it on another all-day guided tour in Tuscany.
Our first stop was at Oliviera Sant’Angelo, a small olive oil mill in Crete Senesi. Olive season is from October to early December, so unfortunately we couldn’t see the machines in action. Instead, we got a walk-through of the building, and we had a chance to sample the various grades of olive oil that they produce.
Next, we visited Podere il Casale. They are a small farm and restaurant that tries to be self-sufficient as much as possible. This farm has a small herd of goats and sheep that they used to make cheese, including the Pecorino cheese that Tuscany is known for. Lunch at the farm included a salad right from the garden, pasta made with wheat from their fields, and a sample of their cheeses. It was all really delicious!
The last stop was in Pienza, a town in the mountains overlooking the farm. Our tour guide grew up just outside this town, so he was pretty excited at getting to show us around! Not only did we get to look around the town cathedral, but we also saw a palace owned by Pope Pius II. We had some time to wander the streets before our guide dropped off back at our hotel.
This machine is used separate the olives into solids and liquids.
This machine separates the olive liquids into water and oil
A display of the olive oils that they produce.
Sheep on the farm, hiding inside from the sun.
Goats excited about getting a treat!
Pecorino cheeses of various sizes aging on the farm.
Our second stop was a tour of the Florence Cathedral, called the “duomo” by the locals. This cathedral was started in 1294, but it took until 1436 before somebody figured out how to build the giant dome. Our tour group took a walk through the main floor, and the tour guide mostly focused on its construction, artwork, and use as a meeting place for non-religious events.
Our last stop was to the Uffizi, one of the largest art museums in the entire world. Its collection includes paintings from artists such as Michelangelo, Botticelli, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. We walked through almost the entire art museum and learned some of the history of the various paintings and exhibits.
Here are some of my photos from throughout the tour:
The famous David statue
A partially completed Michelangelo sculpture
A fake David statue outside the Palazzo Vecchio
A scale model of the Duomo of Florence
The ceiling of the duomo’s dome
The main entrance to the duomo, with a 24-hour clock.
Today was wine tour day! We went to three wineries in the Chianti region, and sampled a total of thirteen wines throughout the day.
Our first stop was at Castello di Radda, a fairly new winery that has been operating since 2009. We toured their facilities, and then tried five of their wines.
Our next stop was for lunch in Volpaia, a city that was built in the 10th century along the Florence and Sienna border. We didn’t tour any wineries there, but we did get to try one wine made in the city.
Our third stop was in Castello di Brolio, the second oldest winery in the world and the place where Chianti wine was invented. We had a tour of the grounds and learned the history of the castle before moving on to the wine tasting. They had three wines to sample, all either Chianti or Supertuscans.
Our final stop was Cantalici. This winery was converted from a 6th century kiln, and uses organic wine making techniques. We had a tour of the grounds before trying four of the wines and some of their olive oil.
Here are some pictures from throughout the day:
Approaching the Castello di Radda winery
Barrels in the basement of Castello di Rada
We had our lunch at La Bottega Ristorante Di Carla Barucci
Outside Castello di Brolio
The castle’s private church
The oldest tree on the castle grounds. It was hollowed out by a grenade in World War 2
The view from the castle walls
The Cantilici brewing tanks
This building used to be a kiln, and is now the winery
Today we drove into Arezzo, the capital city of the Arezzo province in Tuscany. This town was built in the mountains by the Etruscan civilization around the 6th century BCE. It was conquered by the Romans around 311 BCE, and became a home for retired Roman soldiers.
Our first stop was at the Arezzo Archaeological Museum, which was built directly into the ruins of the old Roman amphitheater. This museum contained artifacts found in the area dating back to the Roman times, including the tools used to mass-produce the iconic clay vases.
After the museum we toured the Basilica of San Francesco, a church that began construction around 1290 CE. This church is best known for housing frescoes depicting the Legend of the True Cross. The basement of this church contained an exhibition hall, currently showing stereoscopic pictures from the late 1800s.
Here are my pictures from throughout the day:
The grounds of the ancient Roman amphitheater
Pottery found during the archeological dig
A typical roman bedroom
A mural of Neptune
Vittorio Fossombroni, an Italian statesman from Arezzo
Most places are closed in Italy on Sundays, so yesterday was mostly a rest day. We took some time to explore our resort, find the nearest train station, and wander around the closest town.
Today we took a guided tour to Cortona and Assisi. Cortona is towards the top of a mountain, and was where the movie Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed. We used some of our time there to admire the view. By the time we went through a small museum and some shops our time was up and we had to get on the bus to move on.
I arrived in Italy mid-afternoon on May 26th with my parents, but we were too tired to do much besides walk around a bit and find pizza. Yesterday was our first full day in the country, and we took a Segway tour of Florence to give us a chance to see as much of the city as possible in a short amount of time. Here are some photos from throughout day:
The original map of Florence, from around 59 BC
This column was at the very center of Roman Florence
The gates to Republic Square
Outside the Medici family’s private church.
Inside the Medici family’s private church
Statue representing Spring
Statue representing Summer
Statue representing Autumn
Statue representing Winter
We stopped for Gelato halfway through the Segway tour