July 16th-23rd, 2011
July 16th-23rd, 2011
Join us in July 2011 as Antonio Molesini, Italian Wine Specialist and a native of Tuscany, takes us on a very special wine and cultural tour of his homeland. We’ll be living like locals, spending a week in a villa in Cortona and visiting Antonio’s favorite wineries, restaurants, hill towns and wine bars. With its centralized location, Cortona is the perfect base from which to explore both Umbria and Tuscany, allowing easy access to Assisi, Montepulciano, Chianti, Montalcino, Florence, Lake Trasimeno and more.
Accommodations: Our home for the next week is the beautifully restored Casa Berittinni, located just inside the ancient city walls of Cortona. This 14th century home this house has been lovingly refurbished over several years by the owner, in the traditional Tuscan style, but with modern conveniences. Tastefully decorated with antiques and family heirlooms, this vacation villa has kept its historical character while modernizing its amenities. Each of the four bedrooms is a mini suite with a separate sitting area, queen size bed and private bath. Common areas include a large kitchen and living room areas as well as beautiful gardens.
Cortona: The medieval hill town of Cortona offers many options to the adventurous traveler. Tour frescoed churches from the 13th century; explore the original city walls; see an art exhibit in the 16th century fortress. You can also visit the local museums and libraries, tiptoe around ancient monasteries and tombs dating back to the second century B.C. Dine on the best Tuscan dishes as you look out on an historic palazzo or hike out to the beautiful countryside. As for shopping, you'll find local handicrafts, antiques, and of course local wines and olive oils that simply outdo anything you've ever tasted!
Day One: Saturday, July 16th- Our plane arrives in Florence where Antonio will arrange for taxis and trains to take us into the medieval city of Cortona. The Villa is located with in the ancient city walls and gives us easy access to this historic hill town. Today we’ll get settled in, explore our surroundings, relax with a little Prosecco, cook at the villa and have a wonderful dinner outside in the beautiful gardens.
Day Two: Sunday, July 17th – Exploring Cortona. Cortona is a small charming town enclosed by stone walls that dates back to Etruscan and Roman times. Sitting high on a hill top in the typical medieval fashion, this dominant position over the valley offers a spectacular view from all over the town of the surrounding valley and even Lake Trasimeno. Its narrow winding streets are lined with excellent wine bars, shops and trattorias, making it a great place to just "hang out". After breakfast we’ll walk to the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca, see the Basilica di Santa Margherita, have a light lunch and explore on your own before dinner at Trattoria Dardano. Owned by the Castelli family, this well known local’s favorite features game, lamb, olive oil and wines from their own farm as well as beef from only the best local butchers and house-made pasta.
Day Three: Monday, July 18th - After breakfast this morning we’ll travel by car to one of the most revered wine areas in all of Italy, Brunello di Montalcino. We’ll spend the early part of the day touring the vineyards Tenuta Col D’Orcia. Situated on the outskirts of the medieval hilltop village of Montalcino in Tuscany’s Siena province, the estate has a rich winemaking history that dates back to the 1700s. Our visit to the beautiful Col d’Orcia property, dotted with vineyards, olive and cypress trees, includes a tour the vineyards, the winemaking facilities and aging cellar, followed by a tasting of the entire range of wines and lunch of regional foods at the winery.
After lunch we’ll pass some leisurely time in the village of Pienza, known for its pecorino cheese which is produced here, using various methods passed on through the generations. The streets are lined with stores selling hand-crafted wares and delicious foodstuffs, including their famous cheese. From Pienza, we’ll take the back roads through the countryside down an immensely panoramic road past the medieval stone built hamlet of Monticchielo, enjoying breathtaking views of the Val d’Orcia and make a stop in the beautiful town of Montepulciano home of the revered Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We’ll head back to the villa, drink a glass of wine in the gardens and walk to dinner at Trattoria La Grotta in the center of town.
Day Four: Tuesday, July 19th – Today we’ll travel into Umbria and visit the picturesque town of Assisi, birth place of St. Francis. The entire medieval town can be considered a landmark, with its historical significance and its incredibly tranquil beauty. It is one of the most visited destinations in Italy with ruins dating back to Roman times, winding medieval streets and sacred shrines, not to mention its breathtaking greenery landscapes and tranquility in the midst of the woods of Mt. Subasio. We’ll visit the Basilica of St. Francis, a treasure trove of paintings by such masters as Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti, Cimabue, Giotto and many others, and spend the afternoon exploring this amazingly serene place.
Before heading back to Cortona will take a drive over to Lake Trasimeno, known historically as "the lake of Perugia", the largest lake in peninsular Italy. We’ll stop in the lively town of Passignano, taking in the sights and relax in a café overlooking the lake while we indulge in a little gelato or a refreshing apertivo. We’ll dine at the villa tonight, feasting on all local Cortonese products, cheeses, meats, wines, olives, fresh baked breads and more.
Day Five: Wednesday, July 20th – Today we’ll immerse ourselves in one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world, Chianti Classico. Here, the olive groves, cypress trees, farm houses and miles and miles of vineyards, create an amazing landscape for us to explore. Placed between Siena and Florence, Chianti is home to one of our favorite producers, Rocca delle Macie. We’ll spend the morning touring the vineyards, the winemaking facilities and aging cellar after which we will go up over the hill to the beautifully restored 11th century hamlet of Borgo di Fizzano. Owned by Rocca delle Macie, it provides the perfect atmosphere for our lunch of local products and tasting of the Rocca wines in their restaurant overlooking the vineyards and olive groves.
After lunch we’ll take a little tour around the region visiting the most important towns of Chianti. Stroll around Greve, the main town in the Chianti Classico region, check out the delightful piazza and visit the famous butcher Falorni, where you will be able to taste salamis, cheese and wild boar sausages. From there we’ll journey to Radda and Castellina where you can walk in the narrow streets of these medieval towns full of local food and wine stores, souvenirs and outdoor cafés. On our travels around Chianti will pick up food for our dinner this evening including beef steaks from the local Chianina cattle. Thought to be one of the oldest breeds of cattle in existence, we’ll be grilling this delicious meat in the famous style, Bistecca Fiorentina, the epitome of the rustic simplicity of Tuscan cuisine.
Day Six: Thursday, July 21: Today we’ll travel by train to Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance and the heart of Tuscany, famous for its fine wine, amazing food and incredible art and architecture. Our first stop will be the famed central market, a gastronomic paradise of regional products, produce, wine, and Tuscan foods. Then we’ll walk the ancient streets to the Wine Bar dei Frescobaldi which offers a complete panorama of wines produced by the Frescobaldi family, all accompanied by the most classic Tuscan dishes as well as by mouth-watering specialty food items. Here we’ll indulge ourselves in an exquisite lunch accompanied by the famed wines of Frescobaldi.
After lunch you can roam the streets of Florence at your leisure, explore the Uffizi, pay a visit to Michelangelo’s David, shop or take in the sights on the Piazza del Duomo before we catch the train back to Cortona. Tonight we’ll dine at Ristorante La Loggetta, wonderfully located in a 13th century building overlooking the main square of Cortona, where we’ll be spoiled with delicious and innovative dishes from their creatively revisited traditional Tuscan cuisine.
Day Seven: Friday, July 22: This morning we head off to the Baracchi Vineyards, the estate of one of Antonio’s childhood friends, Riccardo Baracchi, ideally positioned on the Cortonese hillside. This splendid 17th century residence is an exclusive and well restored jewel, formerly home of the poet Antonio Guadagnoli and owned by the Baracchi family since 1860. Riccardo Baracchi, with renowned wine maker Stefano Chioccioli has continued the family tradition of growing grapes and producing quality wine since 1860. Sangiovese, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet and Trebbiano are the grapes that give life to their wines. We’ll take a tour with Riccardo and then have lunch on the terrace of their Michelin rated restaurant, Il Falconiere. We’ve truly saved the best for last…
After lunch we’ll head back to the villa where you’ll have time in Cortona to shop, take in the views or just relax with a glass of wine before our farewell dinner at Chef Santino Cenci’s Trattoria Toscano.
Day Eight: Saturday, July 23: We say “Arrividerci” to Cortona this morning and take the train in to Florence for you to catch your plane or help you get to you next destination.
Trip Cost: $2350/person for double occupancy, not including airfare. A $500 check deposit and completed registration form are required to secure your reservation. Travelers from our previous trip to Sicily will have priority in booking and will have until 12/5/2010 to respond. All other booking can begin as of 12/6 and spots are secured with deposit check and reservation form. For a registration form or information, please contact me at email@example.com or call me at 504.304.0635.
-The villa has 4 double occupancy suites therefore we can accept up to 8 travelers maximum.
-Casa Berittinni is a historically restored 14th century villa that does not have air conditioning or an elevator.
-Due to the nature of the trip, you must be 21 or older to register.
-At times the trip will involve strenuous walking on steep hill town roads that are not accessible by car. Please make us aware of any physical limitations you may have.