I’ve fallen a bit behind on a few of my posts, so I’m taking some time to play catch up. I’ll keep this post short because the snow-capped peaks of Patagonia and the loud crashes of a cracking glacier are beaconing me to put my computer away and come outside (more to come on Patagonia in the next few weeks).
Given that my last post was on Mendoza, I figured now is a great time to tell you about another wine region we visited, Tuscany:
Tuscany was the perfect place to get sick.
No one ever likes to get sick, but when you travel for such an extended period of time, it is bound to happen eventually. For me, eventually came while we were in Tuscany and I can’t imagine a better place for it. So as you may guess, my experience of this wine region was quite a bit different from that of Mendoza, Argentina.
We rented the most adorable little cottage apartment in the itsy-bitsy-tini-tiny town of Piloni, just outside of the little bit larger, but still super small town of Roccastrada, in Southern Tuscany. The front door opened to a small patio in a lovely vegetable and herb garden. And the rolling hillsides of Tuscany dazzled us in the distance. The place was small, but well-equipped and felt like home, but cozier.
We weren’t there but 12 hours before I started to feel the aches and chills set in. I had been anticipating and looking forward to this week for so long. Before we ever left California, friends asked me, what do you look forward to most about your trip? My answer without hesitation was always: I can’t wait to chill out in Tuscany for a week.
Needless to say, I was extremely disappointed when I felt the onset of the bug. But it became a blessing in disguise. Of all the places we visited and all the places we stayed, I can’t think of one other place in which I would rather have been sick. So I spent a lot of the week reading, resting, and simply staring at the beauty of Tuscany.
As my body allowed, we found some low-key ways to enjoy the countryside. Tom booked a fantastic deal on a car rental (about $40 per day including our gas), so some days we just took off and drove around the winding roads. It felt a little strange to drive after so many weeks of buses, trains, and airplanes. We stopped in quaint Italian villages nestled in the hillsides with stone buildings, old women, and lots of cats.
I don't recommend visiting Tuscany without a car; you'll miss the little villages in its nooks and crannies.
We also stumbled upon a small natural hot spring (thanks to a tip from our airbnb host). We didn't know before we went, but Southern Tuscany is sprinkled with these natural baths. So we basked in the sun and sulfur water. While there are commercial pools and spas that require an entry fee, the one we visited was free.
Then, our host Raf, sent us on a quest to fill a 5L glass jug full of wine from his friend’s winery. Apparently, “just down the road” means a 45-minute drive. When we finally arrived at the family-run winery, the owner and vintner was just about to mount his tractor to head back out to the fields. We pulled up in our rental car, rolled down our window, and in a messy mix of English and very broken Italian tried to ask him if we could buy some wine.
He most definitely did not understand until I reached down and held up our empty glass jug. “Ahhh!” his eyes lit up and he understood. He quickly ushered us into the room with the wine vats and gave us samples of his two options, Sangiovese and Cabernet. We chose the Sangiovese and filled our entire jug for just 8 Euro (about $11 USD).
Still recovering, my body wasn't up for wine tasting, but this jug kept Tom plenty busy.
On our last night, we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked vegetarian meal prepared by our hosts, Raf and Lila, with fresh ingredients from their garden. Seasoned with good conversation, it was the perfect end to a surprisingly simple week.
Tuscany didn't end up as the winery-hopping, vino-tasting week we had planned, but we did get to chill out in Tuscany after all and as a result I think our experience was more authentically Tuscan than we could have ever planned.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!