Somewhere in the middle of our trip to Italy, we took a wine tour of the Brunello region of Tuscany. Our tour guide, Donatella, scheduled to pick us up at the Siena train station at 8:45am. This meant that Peter and I had to get up at 6am in order to check out of the hotel and catch the 7:15am bus from Florence to Siena. If we were to do this all over again, we would have stayed at a hotel in Siena the night prior to the tour.
Donatella met us at the bus station bang on time. I saw her black van zoom into the parking lot and she honked her horn and started waving vigorously. She jumped out of her van and my first impression was, “Whoa! That’s a lot of energy for this early in the morning!” There were eight people in our tour group and all of us were American. As with all other tours, one of our tour mates (“Nancy”) was obnoxious.
The drive to our first winery was about an hour and was part winery, part cheese-making factory. Nancy tried to force feed me the fresh ricotta cheese that was still warm and basically bubbling. My patience with Nancy was diminishing at a rapid pace. The next stop was an organic winery, San Polino, where we drank a lot of wine, bought some wine, and then dodged the hail and torrential rain as we ran from the winery to the van.
The next stop was to a mountain man’s little shack in the woods. We drove far into the hillside somewhere and came upon a house where Chef Alberto lived. Alberto was a bit quirky (for example, he uses olive pits as fuel for his furnace) and he was an excellent chef. The food was amazing, some of the best we had in Italy. After Alberto’s, we went to our third and final winery of the day, Salvioni. We took a quick tour, drank some wine and then, in the middle of the presentation, Nancy turned to me and asked if Peter and I wanted her to take a photo of us. I said, “No. Please, enough with the pictures.” I like to believe that our other tour mates were silently applauding my valiant effort to put a stop to the picture-taking.
Our tour ended around 6:30pm when Donatella dropped us off at the Siena bus station. We bused it back to Florence, collected our luggage from our hotel, and boarded the train to Rome.
Peter and I highly recommend Donatella’s tour!