It was a lovely, sunny Tuscan morning when we climbed into our small van and headed off to tour the world-famous wine country in Tuscany – Chianti.
Winding through the roads that cling to the Tuscan hillsides, we passed through quaint Tuscan village towns. We spied the older locals congregating outside the local coffee shops for a quick coffee and a long, long chat. Shopkeepers stood on the sidewalks to converse with each other and the passer-bys. There were the first hints of spring starting to bloom on the trees. Curtains fluttered from open windows high up in the ancient stone-walled apartment buildings. And in the air, the first hints of the slow-cooked recipes put on stovetops early morning in preparation for a long Tuscan lunch, when all the family gather for a meal together.
We passed newly planted fields, the neatly-kept vines in the vineyards, the branches of the silver-leaved olive trees just beyond, their leaves glittering as they fluttered in the light breeze.
Pretty soon, we turned off onto a narrow drive that wrapped around a little hillside, each turn twisting us further up into ever more spectacular vistas of the Chianti landscape.
And then mesmerizingly ahead of us was our destination – an ancient castle in the heart of Chianti.
The Tuscan sunshine glistened from behind the castle turrets. The thick stone Chianti castle walls were cool and rough to the touch, walls that contained a rich and fascinating history that we were made privy to as we were guided through the courtyard, into the private living room of the present owners, and down into the cellars.
There we enjoyed a cellar visit accompanied by fascinating stories about the estate, and the family that own it. We learnt about the wines produced here, as well as gaining a fascinating insight into the estate’s production of extra virgin olive oil. We passed large wooden barrels, smaller barriques, giant terracotta pots once used to store olive oil and dusty collections of past-year wine vintages as we wound our way through the maze of stone-walled rooms that comprised the cellar.
Then it was off to the dining room for lunch and a wine tasting of Tuscan and Chianti wines produced on-site – a typical lunch in Tuscany consisting of simple but delicious spread of cheese and cured meats, ‘crostini’, a pasta dish and tasty mixed salad. Dessert was a fabulously sweet Vin Santo served with biscotti, all served with our favourite condiment of all – fascinating stories about our Chianti surroundings.
Soon it was time to take in one last glimpse of the stunning landscape in which we were immersed before enjoying a different and even more spectacular road home that offered the most wonderful views of Chianti and Tuscany on our way back to Florence.
It was time to take a peaceful moment overlooking the stunning Tuscan countryside – views that seemed like a window into the past we were lucky enough to experience in the most splendid present.
You too can join us on this wonderful Chianti Castle wine tour in a spectacular Tuscan setting.
Artviva offers tours and events in Florence, Rome, Venice, Cinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more. We also have private tours in Florence (and Tuscany), Rome, Venice, the Cinque Terre and beyond.