On our last full day in Italy we decided to stick close to our home base and go wine tasting in Montepulciano. I mentioned before that it’s wise to call ahead to a winery and either book a tasting appointment or at least confirm that the tasting room is open, but we scrapped our own good advice and just went for it. Honestly, I think we got lucky but if you’re willing to be turned away at a winery or two then why not head out on the open road and discover what’s out there?
Early afternoon on Friday we set off for a specific winery that completely escapes my memory at this point, but they turned us away because we didn’t have an appointment. We back-tracked a bit to Lunadoro, which had a sign out front saying they were open. Good enough for us! We drove up a narrow, gravel driveway (very typical for the area) and found the winery in the very back of the property. Though they looked closed, they were more than happy to have us visit and Barbara served us a number of tastings, which were wonderful. We brought home a bottle of their Eclisse for a special occasion.
She recommended we visit Avignonesi for their cellar and wines, but we only managed to enjoy the latter since we didn’t have an appointment. Their tasting room is open all day so we were able to pick a corner booth and enjoy a flight of their wines. Had the weather been better I would have liked to sit out on their patio, which looks like a lovely place to take in the surrounding hills.
Lastly, we stopped by Poliziano on our way back into town. This winery, along with Avignonesi, is one of the biggest producers in the region so you’ll probably be directed here by your hotel or host. The tasting room is also open all day so I imagine you can stop by anytime as long as you aren’t in a big group. But, for a tour of the property and cellar you need an appointment. We tried some nice wines here as well and snagged a couple bottles for home.
Overall it was a fun afternoon of learning about Vino di Montepulciano, the region’s most distinguished wine, as well as Rosso di Montepulciano and other local varieties. I should mention that this was a completely self-guided tour (see here for more good info) and we always designated a driver to keep us safe on the windy, narrow roads. So, when you’re out there, make good choices : )
Saturday was Phil’s day! Earlier in the week we each decided on a non-negotiable, a sight or experience that was a must, and Phil’s was the Leaning Tower of Pisa (mine was Orvietto and Adam’s was Brunello wine tasting in Montalcino). We decided to visit Sienna very quickly in the morning since it was somewhat on the way. Sienna is a beautiful medieval town with incredible history. Of course it is completely overrun with tourists on the weekend (we were there on a Saturday morning…yikes) so I would recommend a visit on a quieter weekday. I don’t necessarily recommend running in and running out like we did, but a quick visit to the top of the tower, overlooking the famous scallop-shaped square was totally worth the mad dash.
Following this speedy adventure we headed way west toward Pisa. It’s an uneventful drive, especially after the beauty of central and southern Tuscany, but we were there in under two hours so it’s an easy trip to make if you have the time. We went specifically to see the leaning tower…along with a million other people. It’s no surprise that this area is always laden with tourists so just enjoy the ride. We relaxed at a cafe for a little while after seeing the tower, but I can’t imagine spending much more than a couple hours in Pisa. It has a mostly manufactured charm. Still! Go to see the tower if it’s on your list. It really is beautiful and quite the spectacle.
Italy, we LOVE you! I mean, we really, really love you. What a special place. Have you been? What were your favorite places to visit? Next time we go I want to head way south and visit the Amalfi coast…
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