We could not go to Tuscany without going to Montalcino.
We visited an old castle there.
And experienced yet another lack of Jon-sized things.
Jon is scared of heights so I climbed solo to the very top and met a very nice French family who took my photo (and also ended up getting great family photos).
Many of the Tuscan hill towns look similar and we loved them.
We also did not get tired of the super delicious food. This stands out as the best pasta I had in Italy, handmade noodles with a brunello, parmesan, and beef sauce.
We decided if we were going to Tuscany we had to taste brunello and we felt like we should do that at Banfi, the largest of the brunello producers. Their grounds were amazing.
We had no idea of the scale of their production until the tour!
The underground cellar had some really interesting areas that would make the most incredible private parties.
Each brunello cask held 15,000 bottles (starting at $50 and up each..... )!
It rained and rained again that day so we headed back for pizza in Radda made by this little old italian grandpa. BEST EVER.
Day 5 we hit the road again to SIENA!
Siena had so much charm. I could spend a long time taking photos there.
Seriously so much charm.
(Jon was such a trooper with my photo opps.)
The scale of Siena's plaza is really hard to get across in photos, just a wide expanse with lots of people and lots to see.
Here is where we hit the first of 4 or 5 stops at Grom, our favorite gelato place. I ordered coffee gelato then Jon repeated my order and ordered lemon gelato. So they gave him a scoop of coffee and a scoop of lemon. And he ate it because GELATO.
After a packed day of sightseeing in Siena, we went back to the villa. For a 5 course dinner dinner. On our terrace. Overlooking vineyards. Cooked by a private chef.
Pretty much no anniversary dinner in Raleigh can top this. We've got 10 years to plan for the 20th dinner.
Day 6 we were up early to hit Florence. Tickets to the Duomo and Uffizi book a month in advance and we were able to get 9AM tickets (or wait 3 hours in person) for the Duomo.
It was.... amazing. AMAZING.
We thought you could walk inside and look at stuff.... instead you walk inside and immediately start the climb. The climb from the ground to the top of the dome goes IN BETWEEN the walls, including physically climbing the outside of the dome.
It was NOT Jon sized. Shortly after I took this, Jon headed back down due to claustrophobia.
At one point I texted Jon saying he made the right call. It was SO HOT inside the walls of that building and the higher we went, the shorter and narrower the passages were. And it was steep and dark.
The reward however... getting to see inside the dome. WOWZERS.
And then the view from the top, just breathtaking.
Fortunately once I was back down, we got a photo with the Duomo in the background. I will ask just about anyone for a photo.
After lunch, we had tickets to the Uffizi, which is supposed to be the best museum in Italy (best is subjective).
It was seriously impressive, but Jon and I decided we like art slightly more modern. More to come on this!
Florence was much bigger than the other cities we had visited so far.
There were quaint pottery shops.
And we may or may not have ended up on Florence Street View on Google Maps!!
After two days in crowds and increasing heat, we decided to pick up some homemade cured meats and cheeses at the local butchery and rest at "home."
DAY 7 we had not made any plans. We decided to spend a relaxing day at our villa because it was vacation.
We hung by the pool, had mimosas, read books, walked around the vineyards.
It was really what we needed after a lot of very busy days.
And OF COURSE we had to head back for more prosciutto and mushroom pizza because YUMMMMMM.(Side note: where did Alex get those eyes? From his dad.)
It was the perfect end to our days in Tuscany. The next day we were headed into Rome in busy season and knew it would be jam packed with people and hot hot hot.