|Had a private tour booked. 4 of us went off to Florence. About 1 hour and 20 minute drive. Florence is no doubt beautiful, but in the 2.5 hours we had there it was disappointing. Once again it was overrun by tourists. It's popularity driving the prices and the crowds. Charges to get into churches and crowded narrow streets. Saw the famous sites including the Golden Bridge where every vendor sells quality jewellery, had wine and a snack in a little Deli, and then headed to San Giamiani.
Our guide, Raffeale or Raff for short was great. San Giamiani was awesome. A midievel town of about 5,000 people which sees over 7 million visitors per year. Just an authentic ancient feel to it with old castles, towers, cisterns, and shops. We loved it, but only had an hour there. Truly our thing and something we would look for in the future. We think rural village European life appeals much more to us than crowded million plus cities.
Next was our meal and wine tasting at a winery about 10 minutes away. The pictures might tell some of the story. It was the best wine tasting ever. We were set at a private table for 4 in our own room. Table was set with 10 wine glasses each. The owner greeted us and told us to taste each food item with each of 10 wines that he poured for us. We were to match each with the food that tasted best. One white, the rest red. Foods included bread and olive oil/balsamic, salad, salami, cheese, a chili bean type dish, and a delicious lasagna with truffle olive oil dressing. The host advised that this particular oil is an aphrodisiac so! Of course, we had to have some in our now drunk state. After sampling it all, the owner returned to explain that everyone's palates are different but that as a rule, new wines (0-2) go with lighter foods; medium wines with medium foods; and older bolder wines with heavy foods like steak.
The winery experience was a hoot. We quickly got tipsy. Not only did they give us a glass of each of those wines (enough to get one tipsy), they left the bottles too. 10 bottles and 4 people ... Hmmm. Lots of laughs, toasts, and love! At the end we scooped up the rest of the wine in our rum runner bags for our return to the ship. We also ordered some wine and truffle oil to be shipped home to us. This should have been Ronnie's birthday. He was glowing and happy!
Headed home to the ship, pee stop included on the side of the road! Complete with Audi simply siting on the step of the van to pee claiming nobody could see her from the highway. She may have been in the invisible stage? Overall, Tuscany is so beautiful. The rolling hills and valleys are amazing and wineries are everywhere. So many grapes!
Quick nap and then off to explore the ship again and to experience 'chocolate night' which was really a bit of a let down. They held it in the buffet.