-Wine estates: Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia), Grattamacco, Tua Rita & more
-Visit a boutique olive oil producer
-Visit the medieval towns of Volterra & San Gimignano
Day 1: Meet the Maremma.
After a pick-up in Pisa, we'll shuttle to the Maremma. Our first destination is Petra for an introduction to the wines of coastal Tuscany. Petra is a stunning piece of architecture and a state-of-the-art winery designed by famous Swiss architect Mario Botta. It's indicative of the sizable new investments flowing into Tuscany's youngest wine zone. After a tour of the estate and its portfolio of wines, it's on to a complementary welcome lunch at the restaurant of Gualdo del Re, a winery and agriturismo. Our afternoon tasting takes us either to Michele Satta or Le Macchiole, in the area of Bolgheri. Both are medium-sized family-owned wineries founded in the 1980s, which have gained a loyal following. After settling into our countryside hotel, we'll head to dinner in Castagneto Carducci, a medieval town tucked in the Apennines. In this mountainous, forested region, the menu focuses on woodland cuisine, with wild boar (cinghiale) and polenta a regional favorite. L, D.
Day 2: Bolgheri & Super Tuscans.
Early risers will have a chance to visit the beach. Afterwards, we'll go to an olive oil mill run by two brothers who are experimenting with oil created from pitted olives. The rest of the day focuses on Bolgheri, the area that first put Super Tuscans on the map. We'll travel down a cypress-lined road to Tenuta San Guido and hear the story of Sassicaia, the first Super Tuscan wine. We'll learn how French grapes like cabernet and aging in small oak barrels changed the face of Italian wine-a revolution that continues to this day. After lunch, we'll visit another pioneering estate, Grattamacco, among the first to put down stakes in the Maremma. Dinner is al fresco at the hotel. B, D.
Day 3: Massa Maritima.
Of all the Maremma's medieval hilltowns, Massa Maritima is the most beautiful. Its jewel is an ornate Gothic cathedral that bristles with gargoyles and houses a small Gothic masterpiece by Sienese artist Duccio. A second point of interest is an antique olive oil museum, which replicates the oil production methods of the 17th century. The day also includes two top-notch wineries: First is Morris Farm, a highly rated family-run property, where we'll try the Maremma's sangiovese clone, Morellino di Scansano. Our second winery will either be Tua Rita, famous for its merlot and Super Tuscans and a pioneer in the Maremma, or Enrico Santini, an Italian-style garagiste winery. Dinner is on your own in Castagneto Carducci, where you'll might such Tuscan fare as rustic bread salad (panzanella) and guinea fowl in wine sauce. B.
Day 4: Volterra & the Etruscans.
Today we cross the Apennine mountains, moving inland to Tuscany's ancient heart. Along the way, we'll stop in Volterra, a hilltown known for its alabaster and for its Etruscan museum, the best in the world. After lunch, we'll continue on to San Gimignano, a perfectly preserved medieval town famed for its dozen towers. It is also known for Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a white wine acclaimed since the time of Dante. In 1643 Michelangelo Buonarotti the Younger wrote that it "kisses, licks, bites, slaps and stings." We'll test out that theory out at Panizzi, a leader in the DOCG consortium, which makes several styles of Vernaccia, from drink-now to age-worthy. Dinner is at nice restaurant in town. Buon appetito and pass the biscotti and van santo! B, D
Day 5: San Gimignano.
Today we explore San Gimignano, beginning with a visit to the medieval cathedral, an awesome gem with floor-to-ceiling Italian Gothic frescos. Those with strong quads can also climb the tallest tower for a great view. Others can visit the fortress, where the Enoteca di Vernaccia is housed, for a glass of wine and a terrific view from the ramparts. After lunch in town and time to shop, we'll have our afternoon tasting at Cesani, a boutique winery that produces two styles of Vernaccia. The estate's star, however, is its award-winning Super Tuscan, Luenzo, made from sangiovese and the disappearing native grape colorino. During our farewell dinner, we'll toast new friends, new discoveries, and new memories. B, D.
Day 6: Arrivederci!
A shuttle to Florence and assistance with your travel plans. (B).
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