Updated: Feb 3, 2019
Today we leave Tuscany. To be honest, it has easily surpassed all other places we have been to, certainly in terms of the experience, food and wine.
You hopefully all got a good idea in our previous posts of what we were doing in Tuscany. Yes that's right, staying with a family who fed and housed us whilst we did some work for them. We wanted to spend a little time getting to know the real culture and traditions of a country by living and breathing it. What better way to do that whilst living with a family who are made up of English, Scottish and Australian.
Joking aside, we got exactly that. The parents, who run the Tuscan holiday retreat, of the family we stayed with have been living there for 10 years and are probably the most popular couple in the village. Plus our hosts have been there for over 3 and are warmly regarded by the locals with excellent taste in Italian culture, cooking and drinking.
We spent most of our time between the holiday home helping look after the guests and back at our home looking after the kids. Most evenings we had dinner with the whole family who cook for or take out all the guests (6 in total), so it is very sociable and the red wine is pretty much on tap. It is from a leaking one that is hard to turn off. The family were very generous and half expected you to grab the carafe at regular intervals.
On days off, we went to festivals, out for lunch, drank espressos and aperitivo, and popped to the beach. We got to see quite a bit around this very quiet part of the world where tradition is king and local services are only used in the very small towns spread far and wide.
Highlights were the Medieval Festival (mentioned in our last post), going to the beach in Castliglione where we shopped for fish dinner at the harbour and had a sneaky aperitivo cocktail, shopping at Montalcino for local produce and traditional gifts (for our hosts, not any family back at home. Sorry) and passing by various different cute and quaint villages where tourists tip toe through and leave little path of destruction.
The food was fantastic, something I shall mention more about on the food page, and the wine was delicious, perhaps making our jolly experience even greater. I have enjoyed many glasses of red wine over the years from Spain, France, even Australia, but I have never really had much Italian before. I am sure many of you have travelled through France or Italy perhaps to enjoy the local wines and appreciated the quality and, as importantly, the value.
Having experienced it first hand here in Tuscany, staying where the famous Brunello wine is created, we have been blown away by what you get on offer when living in such a rich wine region. We had wine tastings and were kindly offered some top notch tipples along the way. Our hosts even bought wine costing €10 for 5 litres which was very easy to drink. No hangovers either because the simply produced local wine lacks many of the chemicals that are required when bottling, shipping around the world and having to last for 10 - 30 years (so I am told).
If you can get yourself into the heart of any famous wine region anywhere and eat at very local restaurants, I would jump at it. Stay off the tourist trail and get some local knowledge any way possible.