I recently returned from a 7-day vacation in Tuscany, and all I can say is, you have to go! Okay. You don't have to, but I highly recommend it--for a bachelorette trip, destination wedding, or honeymoon.
My boyfriend and I used Chianti (Greve in Chianti, to be specific) as our base for exploration. Though we hit the big draws like Siena and Florence, the smaller hilltop villages of Panzano and Castellina and southern areas like Montalcino held the real charms for me.
Should you be putting together an itinerary, here are some of the highlights I'd suggest including:
- Rent an apartment-style suite at Castello Vicchiomaggio, a 14th century castle overlooking the rolling hills and vines in Greve in Chianti. We'd stop by local markets every night for appetizer and dinner fixings, then prepare them in our little kitchen. After uncorking a bottle of wine, we'd take it all down to one of the stone terraces and eat alfresco. Preparing our own suppers was a great way to save money, too!
- Embark on a half-day bike tour with Marco of Discovery Chianti. Your buns will burn after pumping up those hills, but it was a great excuse to pasta-load (not that I needed one!).
- Indulge in gelato everyday, but especially at Carapina in Florence. It has 22 can't-go-wrong flavors.
- Listen to the Gregorian chants at Sant' Animo Abbey in Montalcino. The monks sing at 12:45 pm and 2:45 pm for about 15 minutes, and it's absolutely mesmerizing. After, we hopped on the nearby hiking trail for a 4-mile walk through the beautiful countryside.
Vineyards for miles!
The view from Castello Vicchiomaggio, and our lunch on its terrace after a rigorous bike ride with Marco. Wine with lunch and dinner! When in Rome, er, Chianti!
Sant' Antimo Abbey. The inside was even more rustic and beautiful in its stark simplicity.