Many claim that Paris or Venice are the most romantic cities in Europe, but from rolling vineyards to private castles, the Tuscany region deserves a mention.
A Romantic Escape to Tuscany
While wrapping up my first season in Italy, our coach told us we could have a free day after our last regular-season game. I figured since it was my last off day, I should take this chance to really explore Italy and to go big! We were playing Firenze (Florence) that Saturday so I did some research on the areas nearby. My plan was made, my travel buddy was ready and we were eager to get a taste of Italy just one last time.
As the trip approached, I was getting more and more excited, and I think a majority of my excitement had to do with the fact that our Airbnb was a castle! This was no ordinary castle. It was made up of four different rooms, all of which were empty when we had arrived. When you drive up, you approach a gorgeous courtyard topped off by an intricate gate that opens announcing one’s arrival (because I’m so fancy). Our hosts led us to our room, which was located at the top of the tower and had 360 degree views overlooking the nearby wineries and was perfect for watching the sunsets.
Air Ballooning in Tuscany
We were up the next day at 5:30 a.m. for the start of our 24 hours in Tuscany. A quick drive to open fields led us to our first adventure – a sunrise hot-air balloon ride above the Tuscany region. We splurged a little and took our own private basket opting out of the shared group experience (recommended for all you lovers out there). Between the gorgeous sunlight shooting through the mountains and the peaceful quiet of the morning, everything felt as if it were out of a movie or one of the dates on the Bachelorette. When we landed, our tour provided us with a prosecco breakfast complete with meats, cheeses and breads from around the area.
A Romantic Wine Tour in Tuscany
We finished the trip around 10 a.m. and decided to make a quick stop in a nearby city to have an espresso and take a walk. Most of our day was spent driving through the hillsides, each one just as beautiful as the last. Next, we headed to Montefiorrele winery where we did a wine tasting for 15 euros. After tasting a few different types of wines, we decided that the Chianti Reserve from 2010 was the winner. We used our rough Italian to convince our hosts to give us just one more glass and we bought a couple bottles to enjoy at home. The winery is located right next to a town straight out of a Disney movie – it was intertwined with cobblestone streets and family-owned shops and restaurants. We grabbed lunch overlooking the hills and decided to drive back to our castle for a much-needed nap.
Sunset came peeking through the windows and our Airbnb hosts offered us the name of restaurant in a town about 15 minutes away. To this day, that meal will forever be one of best I’ve ever had. My mouth is literally watering thinking about it. You walk into a small mom and pop type restaurant with only a few tables available. The menu is only in Italian (that’s how you know it’s authentic right?). My favorite was the bistecca alla Fiorentina, or literally Steak Florentine, which is local to the region (obviously). After selecting the exact piece of meat we wanted, we (im)patiently waited for our meal. The food was delivered from the kitchen upstairs through an elevator down to the first floor. Fiorentina steak, roasted rosemary potatoes (we ordered two because of how good they were) and a glass of Chianti made for a perfect ending to our adventure in Tuscany.
It’s easy to see how Tuscany makes for the perfect ending to a love story.
What adventures have you had in Tuscany?