It is possible to sample the delights of Tuscany in a small group day trip tour that whisks you from your hotel in Rome to spend a day experiencing some of the most extraordinary places in the Tuscan region of Italy.
In 12 unforgettable hours you will tour the scenic rolling hillsides of this incredible wine region, with ample opportunity to stroll along the mountain pathways and explore the architecture and fine cuisine.
The first stop of the day is high up in medieval Montepulciano, the largest and highest hillside town in southern Tuscany. Travellers enjoy exploring the alleyways that date back to the middle ages and walking to incredible examples of Renaissance churches and palaces. This is an urban city, at once ancient and modern, where you can feel the imprint of past generations while you shop and experience the culture of contemporary Italy.
It is home to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a celebrated, mellow ruby wine that dates back to the 8th century and was actually the first Italian wine to be awarded the exclusive Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation. You will enjoy tasting this king of all wines in underground wine cellars that were once Etruscan tombs.
Brunello di Montalcino
Next we encounter the famous Brunello Wine Region of Tuscany, home to over 200 active wineries and the enchanting hilltop village of Montalcino. Wine connoisseurs travel from all over the world to sample Brunello wine, a full bodied dry red wine with some diversity in production that results in variations in taste and flavour. Brunello wine also carries the prestigious DOCG designation.
Here you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the production of what is regarded as one of the finest Italian wines. While an aged Brunello decreases the tannins and softens the taste, both old and young vintages are regarded as exceptional with hints of cherries, vanilla, wood, herbs, and other flavours. Even better, once you have had a chance to see how this wine is created you get a chance to put theory into practice as you taste several of the winery’s best vintages and enjoy a Tuscan lunch repast of cold cuts, cheeses, Bruschettas, and locally produced Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
After a satiating lunch it is time for a little exercise to aid digestion, and a beautiful nearby Romanesque Abbey offers an inspiring destination. This monastery was built over the site of a Roman villa that, according to an ancient inscription, boasted a sacred spring. Legend holds that the abbey was constructed by Charlemagne in 781 to fulfill a promise he made to God after he and his men fell ill and were miraculously cured. The seal of Charlemagne is set into the foundation of the early part of the structure.
The church was rebuilt in the Romanesque style in the 12th century and was historically a site visited by pilgrims and other travellers. Today it is considered one of the country’s finest examples of Romanesque architecture, with beautiful sculptures and frescoes ornamenting the pilgrimage church.
Recently named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) world heritage site, the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany is essentially an agrarian landscape that was a design marvel constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries: A man-made landscape intended to create a visually pleasing picture as well as enhance agricultural efficiency.
This unique design approach, which saw roses planted in vineyards and carefully planted dark green cypress trees augmenting the lighter landscape, was deemed to be culturally significant and worthy of protection as an irreplaceable heritage site. For travellers, it is a natural preserve of perhaps the most beautiful farming countryside and vineyards in Italy, if not the world.
Another notable stop of interest is the Renaissance village surrounded by the Val d’Orcia called Pienza.
It was the dream of Pope Pius II to turn his birthplace into the ideal Renaissance city. He employed an architect named Bernardo Rossellino, who gave Pienza a new focal point with a beautiful central piazza (square) – large enough to rival the piazzas of much larger cities in Italy. While not all of the pontiff’s plans materialized, the buildings that were constructed and which remain today are considered to be great examples of architecture from the period.
Film buffs may recognize Pienza’s city centre from the Oscar-winning The English Patient and Franco Zeffirelli’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. In addition to the magnificent architecture, travellers will enjoy the small village’s shops (the goat cheeses and honey are a local specialty), Sienese art, and artisans.
Contact us to find out more about Avventure Bellissime’s Small Group Tuscan Day Tour or other Italy excursions, all of which are conducted by local, experienced, English-speaking Italian guides.