a Tour through Chianti

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I'm of the opinion that you'd be doing a disservice to yourself if you went all the way to Florence and didn't discover Chianti- to bop through the cellars of Tuscany, it's quintessential. In fact, anytime I have curious wine & food loving clients visiting the area I always incorporate a day trip to Chianti into the itinerary. One of my favorites is orchestrated by Your Personal Italy, so when my husband decided he wanted to spend his 40th there, I immediately messaged the owner, Max, to get us set up with the perfect experience - a mix of formal tastings and downright gritty cellars. Which is why Max is my go-to tour operator in Italy, he knows how to blend casual luxe flawlessly.
We were lucky to have several friends join us for this trip, which made the experience that much more enjoyable & memorable. Riccardo picked us up early in the morning, and with a car to ourselves plus a personal driver / guide so we could enjoy without worry, we were off on one of the world's most beautiful and famous routes. Riccardo gave us a history lesson of the Florentine region on the way to our first tasting at Castello di Fonterutoli - one of the largest and most historic wineries in the region producing for nearly 600 years.
After our private tasting of their fantastic production, our next stop was a walk through the walled medieval town of Montefioralle, consistently ranked among Italy's most beautiful villages, for sweeping views over the vineyards below.
By this time we were all hungry, and eagerly anticipating where Riccardo's car would lead us next! When he pulled up to Monterinaldi, a sprawling estate and told us lunch would be here, I think our jaws collectively dropped. We had our own personal dining room and attendant.. and several courses of simple Italian fare that never seemed to end. After lunch, we were able to tour Monterinaldi's winery and cellar to get a first hand look at what goes into creating authentic Chianti wines.
What came next was possibly my favorite bit of the entire day - a visit to the tiny winery Montagliari. The vibe was lively in the packed tasting room, everyone having a good time sampling their exquisite reds, balsamics, and olive oils. At one point I found myself behind the counter serving myself, and others.. it was just that kind of place. My kind of place.
Not wanting to leave, but curious about the remainder of what Riccardo had in store, we loaded ourselves and new bottles of wine & olive oil into the car for our next delight - Falorni, one of Italy's oldest butcher shops, situated in the center of charming Greve. Somehow we found room in our stomachs to sample various types of salami, proscuitto, and cheese.
..And of course as I was walking through the piazza, I heard Southern accents and had to introduce myself. Turns out these ladies were all born in my hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. What a small, wonderful world it really is.
On the drive back to Florence we all laughed and talked about our favorite parts of the day, each of us knowing that this would be one of those experiences in life that stays with you forever. Getting out of the city and into the countryside is always my favorite part to a trip, this one no exception. If you find yourself thinking about a trip to Tuscany, let me know, It would be an honor to work with you to make your visit even more special than you could have imagined.

Grazie to Max & Riccardo at Your Personal Italy for arranging such a perfect day! I'm off to make fresh ragu with the olive oil I bought from Montagliari...
Cheers-
Lila



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