TRAVEL GUIDE: TUSCANY
We're in a new country today for the travel guide. After a wonderful 5 days in Portugal, Amanda and I were off to Tuscany in Italy to meet up with my parents. I think I mentioned previously that getting in and out of Portugal was tough. We ended up taking Lufthansa to Frankfurt then to Florence. Thank heavens for Rome2Rio because that totally helped us navigate a tricky travel situation. We took a crazy-early 6am flight in order to meet Mom and Dad at the Florence airport but it was well worth it.
It was a little surreal to see my parents standing at the Florence airport waiting for us. How often do you meet up with your family in a foreign country (not me!)? We drove to our little picturesque hotel outside of Cortona (you know, where Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed) We obviously got lost due to a clueless GPS but eventually found out way there thanks to a very adorable group of older Italian men enjoying a Peroni outside who gave us directions. Their directions went something like "turn left at the roundabout, right at the Virgin Mary shrine, and another right at the old Roman wall" How Tuscan can you get?
So let's get into it...
WHERE WE STAYED
Relais Falconiere - Now let me caveat that this was with my parents so it was a smidge fancier than I probably would have stayed myself but it was a nice treat for Amanda and I. The hotel has a Michelin-starred restaurant (if you saw the tiny winding road it was on you would be quite surprised) The rooms very comfortable but very, very old-- we stayed in a house that was from the 17th century. The estate is preserved from the 1600s to perfection with a few modern additions like a pool and spa. There is also a very cute dog that belongs to the owner as well as a resident Falcon, to live up to the hotel's name. I also have to pause a moment to talk about the breakfast there. It really deserves its own post. It was absolute perfection. Maybe one, if not THE, best hotel breakfasts I've had. They had this one croissant with apricot jam in the middle that was incredible. I have dreams about that croissant.
WHERE WE VISITED
Each day we drove to the little hill towns, as you do when you're in Tuscany. Here were my two favorite towns to explore.
Anghiari - Now I'm almost afraid to give up the name of this little gem because unlike its bigger sister towns like Sienna and Arezzo, this town is barely ever talked about. It was truly a magical find, recommended to us by the receptionist at the front desk. It took us about 45 minutes to get there from Cortona. The town was untouched by time and completely charming. Also, neighboring the town there is Caprese Michelangelo where the famous artist grew up. It is worth a visit to see his childhood home and replicas of his work.
Pienza - This is a more popular town but no less charming. The streets were busy with tourists but the sites and stores made it worth it. They are known for their Pecarino cheese here plus a massive church that was built when the Pope came to visit. We ate lunch at a fabulous place here called La Terrazza del Chirostro.
WHERE WE ATE
Taverna Pane e Vino - We ate here twice actually. It was one of our favorites because of how authentic it was and it was pretty affordable too. There was one pasta with almonds that was delicious. I highly recommend!
La Locanda del Mulino - This charming restaurant was recommended by the hotel (they own it, so it makes sense) It is off the main road in a cozy old house that sits near the river. Not only did they let Amanda try her hand an sabering a bottle of champagne but they also served a delicious meal. There were lots of families eating their from neighboring towns, which is always a good sign.
So that was Cortona and Tuscany. We were only there for a few days so it was a little bit of a shorter guide than the others so far. Next week we move on to Firenze!