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Saturday, January 5, 2019

Under the Tuscan Sun with LTD

When you hear "Tuscany" what do you think about? The movie "Eat, Love, Pray," with Julia Roberts, or "Under the Tuscan Sun," with Diane Lane? Do you think about Chianti? Do you dream about Florence and its art or grand dome?

But maybe you should think about the people, the landscape and the tranquility!

LTD visited the Tuscan countryside to encounter the local people. Our recommendation: Please plan a visit to Tuscany!

On this occasion we planned a day in and around San Gimignano for a more in depth visit to the Tuscany countryside.  Our drive to San Gimignano showed us some of the most beautiful vistas in Italy with rolling hills, fall colors and patchwork landscape that screams agriculture. Everywhere along the road were locals enjoying hiking, hunting, cycling and running. The leaves and grapevines were displaying their fall colors, but these were mixed with green Italian cypress and olive trees. We passed many villas, some five star hotels, and the exquisite golf course and resort of Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, our choice of lodging for our next visit to Tuscany.

Every summer Andrea Bocelli gives a very special performance in his hometown of Lajatico, Tuscany at the Teatro del Silenzio, an amphitheater built especially for his concerts which we saw along our route.  The setting of the open air theatre against the backdrop of the Tuscan hills makes the experience all the more unique and would be a great opportunity for any music and travel aficionado!

The theme of the show changes every year, some years it might be a full opera, others Bocelli performs his favorite arias as well as some of his greatest hits accompanied by some very special guests, but it is always the Maestro himself that decides. Two-thousand people attend for charity. He performs with other performers much like "friends with Pavarotti".

The locals are the salt of the earth, many families having lived and worked the land for hundreds of years. Take Tenuta Torciano Winery where the Giachi Family has produced Tuscan wines since 1700s. We enjoyed one of the most plentiful tastings ever including Chianti, Brunello, super Tuscans, the local white and desert wines and since the area is also known for its olive oil, and truffles, we indulged!  What a nice change from the standard wine tasting!

Enjoy Wine and Delicacies tasting at Tenuta Torciano Winery

Enjoy our video of the area and excuse our videography after a long day of wine tasting!!!

Speaking of desert wine, have you ever had a wine flavored gelato? LTD was honored to spend time with Sergio, Master Gelato Maker and Owner of Gelateria Dondoli. Proof of his expertise, professionalism and love of his work is evident by him being awarded the most sought after prizes! His ice cream parlour is mentioned in the most important world guides and is continuously visited by national and international television shows. These accolades are certainly appropriate! He is recognized as a World Champion Gelato Maker for creating original and unusual flavors. Sergio treated us to several gelatos including Crema di Santa Fina® (cream with saffron and pine nuts),Vernaccia Sorbet (from a local white wine grape), butternut squash, saffron cream, blueberry and ricotta cheese, among others. Delisioso! It is obvious you will be in store for a treat when you see locals enjoying the gelato outside his shop at 10 in the morning! Well...the gelato was fabulous but the warm and inviting nature of the people in the shop was even more special!

LTD was honored to spend time with Sergio, Master Gelato Maker and Owner of Gelateria Dondoli.

So much for food!  What about the destination of San Gimignano?

San Gimignano, the "Manhattan of Italy" is a beautiful hilltop city with many towers evident when nearing the town. Stop for a postcard view of the Tuscany landscape before entering San Giovanni gate! Make your way to the top stopping to enjoy the shops of Tuscan ceramics, wines, oils and leather goods. Many of the old townhouses have been converted into bed and breakfasts or boutique hotels. If you're lucky, you may get a room with a view of the breathtaking countryside!

The "Manhattan" of Italy

OR Stop to enjoy the well at the center of the town, the scene of many movies set in Tuscany.

The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano is a Roman Catholic collegiate church and minor basilica located in San Gimignano, situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. The church is famous for its fresco cycles which include works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi. The basilica is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", with its frescos being described by UNESCO as "works of outstanding beauty".

The Duomo's frescoes were described by UNESCO as "works of outstanding beauty".

The Last Supper by Lippo Memmi
We visited on a Sunday, so most of us would expect no activity in this Catholic county! But the locals were having festivals with displays of local agricultural products with bands, food and one of our favorites for winter and fall: roasted chestnuts!

What a remarkable day!  When you travel to Italy next time,  make sure to plan time in Tuscany at a villa, on a tour, or exploring on your own.

The Travelon Messenger bag is our choice to keep your valuables safe in all of Italy, while keeping your hands free to taste wine, eat gelato or take pictures!

Make Meaningful and Healthy Travel Happen!!!

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