We recently went on a lovely trip to Tuscany staying in a gorgeous villa in Monte San Savino, courtesy of Bookings for You and had a brilliant time, (you can read my first post here,) whilst there, we went off exploring. Close to both Siena and Florence, this is a great base. These are some of my recommendations if you are visiting the area.
We had 3 nights in the villa and on the first night, tired from our long journeys, we were greeted by the wonderful Chef Massimo from Ristorante Belvedere who made an absolute feast of delicious pizzas, one after the other, all sorts of toppings. Pure heaven! There were about 9 different types in all, and ended with a delicious sweet version with nutella and cream.
The following day was Sunday and we piled into the hire van once again and made the short trip to Siena to explore the breathtaking city, one of the most beautiful and charming cities I’ve been to, packed full of breathtaking architecture and the most incredible square. After a very tasty lunch of stuffed gnocchi at Osteria Nonna Gina, we finished the exploring on a high with gelatos in the iconic square.
On our return that afternoon, we had the wonderful experience of a cooking lesson in our villa. Laura and Gianluca from Cooking in Florence brought all the ingredients and expertise needed for us to create an out of this world meal that we had enormous amounts of fun learning to make but then also got to eat after. It was so enjoyable to roll our own gnocchi and learn how to make the lovely stacked aubergine parmeggano. This was probably one of my trip highlights, the wine flowed and the laughter was endless. Great memories, plus I now know how to make gnocchi! Not that I’ve tried it since!
Next day, a wine tasting with the lovely lovely people at Mansalto Villas and Wines. Given that our beautiful villa was a part of there extensive vineyard estate, we didn’t have to travel far for some fantastic wine sampling. It was so exciting to see the tractor pulling a trailer of grapes and the traditional wooden barrels they store the wine in, although they use lots of modern techniques to complement the process too. May I recommend their sparkling one, it was absolutely delicious! I was very impressed with the olive oil jars too, (pictured below) how long do you think that would last you?
Followed by a simple yet delicious lunch at the wonderfully charming Ristorante La Scuderia, with very friendly staff, stunning flavours and fresh ingredients. I’d never had spaghetti like that before but it was absolutely incredible.
When we weren’t out and about in the van we hired from the airport, we made use of the villa’s plentiful facilities, including a jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. There was a fully equipped gym but we didn’t stop eating for long enough to be able to work out!
We finished with a day exploring the world famous Pisa, giggling at all the people standing around the tower with their hands out (and feeling slightly envious of those who managed to get ‘the shot’!) and lunching in a sun drenched square with my parents, who live part time in Italy and came to meet us.
The weather – we went at the end of September and it was shorts and tees whether by day and a cardi for the mornings and evenings.
The vibe – chilled out and relaxed evenings spent sampling the delicious wine and food of the region.
The travel – we flew from London Gatwick to Pisa with easyJet. The flight time was under two hours and then transfer time to the villa was approx 2 hours.