TASTES OF WINE AND OLIVE OIL

  • Duration:8 NIGHTS/9 DAYS
  • Countries Visited:Italy
  • Highlights:Florence, Carmignano, Chianti, Siena, and Montepulciano
  • Tour Inclusions:
    • Airfare JFK/ Florence/ JFK
    • Accommodations in fine four star hotels
    • Buffet breakfast daily and meals as per the itinerary
    • Comprehensive sightseeing and visits as shown
    • Services of a professional English speaking tour escort
    • Transportation by a private deluxe coach
    • Porterage for one suitcase per person
    • Select International Tours travel portfolio

Relish the glorious cities, towns, and villages of Tuscan countryside. Dotted with endless emerald vineyards, with grapes ripening on the vine, this region is still relatively untouristed, and the wine enthusiasts dream. Visit remarkable wineries as you indulge in private tastings, of superlative classic and new wave “designer” wines, dine in marvelous trattorias, and sample Italy’s finest extra-virgin olive, as precious as fine wine.

DAY 1: DEPART U.S.A.

You’ll depart this evening on an overnight flight to Italy.

DAY 2: FLORENCE

Welcome to Tuscany. You are greeted by your Italian tour host and whisked away to our traditional, yet comfortable hotel. The welcome dinner is at the Enoteca Pinchiorri, one of the finest restaurants in Florence, located on the ground floor of a Palazzo, where lavish seasonal menus are matched with wines from Italy’s most eclectic cellar. Overnight Florence. (D.)

DAY 3: FLORENCE

The city of visual splendor awaits us today. After breakfast we start with a visit to the food stalls in the San Lorenzo market. See the statues in the Piazza della Signoria, view Michelangelo’s David at the Academia, and the explore the incredible Duomo, the Baptistry and the Museum. For lunch, indulge in one of the many fine trattorias, serving tasty regional foods such a ribollita (vegetable soup thickened with bread and doused with olive oil.). You may explore the Uffizi Gallery with the splendid art collection, or shop as the Florentines do, who shun the ostentatious and buy clothes at old reliable Neuber, shoes at Raspine and Ceramics at Sbigoli. Overnight in Florence.(B.)

DAY 4: CARMIGNANO

After breakfast, begin the wine and olive oil tour with a drive northwest to the town of Carmignano, which lends it name to an aristocratic red wine made from Sangiovese and Cabernet grapes. This was once the playground of the Medicis who constructed the many villas of the area, including the leading wine and olive oil estate of Tenuta di Capezzana synonymous with one of Tuscany’s smallest, but most distinguished wine denominations, Carmignano DOCG. Here the Contini Bonacossi family has made wine and olive oil, for centuries. Just as vines that produce the finest wines, yield the smallest amount of grapes, so these olive trees yield minuscule amounts of fruit. The smaller yields are harvested by hand and taken to a traditional olive oil mill. Every year, olive oil from la nuova raccolta, the new harvest, is as eagerly awaited as the year’s new wine. But unlike wine extra- virgin olive oil does not improve with age, it should be consumed as young and as quickly as possible. For lunch, we head to the nearby hamlet of Artimino and the Trattoria Da Delfina, with its summer terrace overlooking a beautiful Medicean villa and its vineyards. Try chef-owner Carlo Cioni’s capelle de porcini ripiene (wild mushrooms stuffed with herbs and baked in the oven), served with the traditional Tuscan bread dribbled generously with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Tonight for dinner, we recommend you try the sumptuous Florentine beefsteaks which are grilled over wood coals. Overnight Florence. (B.L.)

DAY 5: CHIANTI CLASSICO

The scenic highlight of any Tuscan wine tour are the rolling hills of Chianti, located on the wine road, between Florence and Siena. This is the land of the black rooster, symbol of the Chianti Classico consortium. Visit the elite estates of Vicchiomaggio, the villa where the model for Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa was born, now owned by an Englishman, and Badio a Coltibuono, a 12th century stone complex with great wines. Here the olio extra vergine d’oliva, extra virgin-olive oil, has a fragrance and flavor, lean and elegant, peppery when new, completely ungreasy or fatty, and unrivaled by oils from anywhere else. Antica Macelleria Falorni, under the arcade on the main square, makes superb salami and prosciutto, which we buy and along with some superb Chianti relish a picnic amid the vineyards. Overnight Tuscan Hills. (B.)

DAY 6: SIENA

After breakfast, head to the Medici Fortress, and the vaulted cellars housing the Enoteca Italiana, the national wine archive, with a bar for tasting the daily selections. The walking tour of this marvelous city takes us to the shell shaped Piazza del Campo, with the stately Palazzo Publico and frescoes by Lorenzetti and Martini, Siena’s age-old horse race Palio is held here. You may wish to purchase a souvenir, as the city known for its traditional crafts. We suggest artisan glassware and impressive wrought iron lamps and candelabras. In the afternoon enjoy a glass of Vin Santo accompanied by the panforte, rich, spicy confection. Overnight Tuscan Hills. (B.)

DAY 7: MONTEPULCIANO

Chianti, Brunello de Montalcino and Vino Nobile are the three of the greatest wines in Tuscany. They share a character of full-bodied, deep grape taste, but beyond that there are endless differences. As the road takes us closer to Montepulciano, the wine map is studded with inviting vineyards. Today our search will take us to Avignonesi (with its very own Etruscan tomb) and Poliziano vineyards, which make two of the most distinguished wines of the area, Vin Santo, the holy wine, the smooth nutty wine often sipped with biscotti after dinner, and very much a Tuscan tradition and vino nobile, the noble poetТs wine, a dry wine with a deep garnet color. We also visit Le Capezzine, a sprawling estate with its own winery, olive oil mill and chapel. After visiting the vineyards, and being shown and explained the Latin way of planting, we explore the hilltop town of Montepulciano. In the main piazza, several vineyards have tasting rooms, in the fine palazzi, palatial houses, where you sample and can purchase local wines. For lunch you may wish to try the traditional regional dishes in a trattoria with a sampling of wines of the area, or a typical lunch of crostini and a dish of cold meats, (Prosciutto, dry sausage or local salame flavored with fennel called finocchiona). Not to be missed are scores of local shops filled with treasures, and openings into ancient, dim Etruscan tombs. Overnight Tuscan Hills. (B.)

DAY 8 MONTALCINO

In the morning, head west to Montalcino, an imposing hilltop fortress. Admire the sweeping view of Brunello vineyards from the rampants of the city. Lunch at Taverna Dei Barbi, a restaurant tucked into farm buildings at Frattoria dei Barbi, one of Tuscany’s better-known wineries. Here four women from Montalcino prepare Tuscan specialites the way they learned to make them at home. The menu is changed seasonally, and everything from the cheese to the prosciutto to the sausages is prepared at the winery. The taverna offers a rare chance to enjoy farm cuisine in its natural setting. After lunch accompanied by the wine from the vineyard, a circuit of Montalcino’s vineyards and cellars will take up the afternoon. Passing the hamlets of SantТ Angelo in Colle and Poggio alle Mura and the top wine estates of II Poggione, Col D’Orcia and Marchesi deТ Frescobaldi’s Castel Giocondo.Tonight we have a farewell dinner, to mark the end of a wonderful journey. Overnight Tuscan Hills. (B.L.D)

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