The next part of our adventure was to experience the many Tuscan delights!

I had booked a number of great places to stay during out seven nights in Tuscany.  Our first experience was to stay at the Dievole Wine Resort which is located just outside Siena.

Driving from Pescara on the Adriatic coast it took us just over 4.5 hours, but as we left the coast near Ancona and headed over the mountains of Marche and deep into the heart of Tuscany.

The scenery was stunning with snow-capped peaks on the nearby mountains, and with this came a significant drop in temperature…

During our time in Puglia most days the weather ranged from 21C – 27C with generally clear azure skies, but now as we made our way into Tuscany the temperature lowered itself into the low teens…

Let’s put it this way, shorts, and a t-shirt (which I had departed Pescara with) were well and truly unjustified in the breezy Tuscan countryside.

Given that we’d left our lodgings in Pescara before 9:00 am we therefore found ourselves at the resort just afternoon.

Without missing a beat the hotel team had us seated at a table at the restaurant and enjoying one of my favourite Italian pasta dishes… Cacio e pepe!

This delightful, grated pecorino romano and black pepper, together with tonnarelli or spaghetti is one of the many incredible dishes that is a household staple in Italy.

If you haven’t tried it, check out the link above with the recipe.  Super easy to make if you have the right ingredients!

After this filing lunch we needed a little exercise and so began exploring the expansive winery grounds before heading into Siena.

Just so you know getting lost in an Italian town is a rite of passage on any trip and this is exactly where we found ourselves as we searched for parking.

A warning that Google maps isn’t as responsive inside these ancient towns and villages and it’s easy for it to be anywhere between 100 – 200M behind where it says you are in relation to where you actually are.

Given this scenario it’s easy to miss a vital turn ot two along the way… just sayin.

Siena is a vibrant and busy town with a cosmopolitan heart that dates back to 900 BC when a tribe known as the Saina inhabited this region.

In the 12th century Siena was at its pinnacle of power, but over time Firenze (Florence) and the Medici family wrestled away it’s prestige and during the ensuring centuries it’s influence waned.

Today, in many respects Siena is the cultural center of Tuscany.

A must see is the Piazza del Campo and the various museums and stores that dots its perimeter.

One of the most popular events is the Palio which is held twice a year (July 2 and Aug 16).

Large crowds gather to witness horses from 10 of the neighbourhoods of Siena compete in a medieval horse race against each other for the trophy or Palio bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The next morning, I had arranged a private Brunello wine tour near Montalcino which is in the heart of arguably one of the most prodigious wine growing areas in the world.

Of course, you can’t take a Tuscan wine tour without actually buying some and so yes, we acquired a bottle for a future special occasion which I stowed in my bag.

It was also at the Dievole Wine Resort that my delayed bag from Dubai finally caught up with me… clearly, better late than never but two weeks into a three-week trip is exasperating!

After two incredible days at this Tuscan masterpiece, we said our farewells and drove the 1.5 hours north to Firenze and the next segment of our Italian adventure.

I had booked us into the NH Collection Palazzo Gaddi in the old part of the city.

We dropped our car at the nearby car park which I had pre-booked which was only 100 metres from the front door to the hotel.

It felt like we stepped back in time as we entered this gorgeously renovated palace.  This coupled with impeccable service and doting staff really made our stay the most memorable of our trip.

Both Judy and I agree that this hotel was the best of our entire trip.

I could really get used to this level of service…

We had three days planned for Firenze including tickets to the Duomo and Bell Tower, plus museums.

I had booked tickets in advance knowing that there would be a crush of people converging on the ticket office and wanted to ensure a date and time.

As expected, tickets were sold out for the day we visited and the two subsequent days following.

You may have seen the photo of Judy giving me the evil eye after I made her walk up the 400 + steps for each of the Duomo and Bell Tower.

These tight stairwells can be both tiring and claustrophobic with little room to manoeuvre up or down.

A great afternoon activity under blazing azure skies the view from the top of each was spectacular.

This was my fifth visit and Judy’s first, but it never gets old.

Join me next week as we continue to explore Firenze and further afield as we begin the final days of our Italian adventure.

Until next week