Monday, August 12, 2013

Italy Here I Come!

I'm going to Italy! I can hardly wait!  Just 35 more sleeps!

The plans have been made and the tickets have been booked (finally)! After 2 long months of researching, planning and anticipating, it's finally official! In approximately 5 weeks a friend and I will be heading to the airport to board our flight to Rome.  After a few days of exploring (and eating) in Rome we will be heading north to Tuscany for 5 nights then south to the Amalfi Coast for 5 nights.  I. CAN'T. WAIT!

It's been 7 long months since I've been in Italy!  That's right!  A whole 7 months!  I was in beautiful La Serenissima (Venice) for New Year's for the 2nd year in a row and have been itching to go back.
I was last in Tuscany about 5 years ago but it's been far too long since I've been back to Rome or the Amalfi Coast.

The last time I was in Tuscany I was very fortunate to stay at a private villa owned by a Contessa who's family once owned the incredible Villa Vignamaggio seen below. In fact my bedroom window looked down onto the Vignamaggio estate! The villa has been around since the 14th century and is also famous because it is widely believed that the Mona Lisa, painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, was born here. More recently it has been used as the location for the Kenneth Branagh film "Much Ado About Nothing" among others.

The estate is currently owned by Mr. Gianni Nunziante and is now run as a hotel as well as a vineyard that produces around 230,000 bottles of wine every year. Vignamaggio is just south of Florence near the town of Greve and a must see if you are in the area or looking for a unique place to stay.

This time we are staying at 2 different hotels in Tuscany.  The first, Villa Scacciapensieri, is a marvelous 19th century Villa set in its own large park and gardens perfectly situated on top of a little hill only 2.5 km north of the medieval walled city of Siena.

After a couple of nights there we are heading north a little back to the area just south of Florence where we will stay at Villa La Palagina overlooking the hills of Chianti.

Villa La Palagina is in the area of Figline Valdarno and is apparently right next door to Sting's villa.  Maybe we'll have cocktails!  I'm sure our invitation will be waiting for us when we check in! 

Figline Valdarno is near Greve where I stayed last time so I'm looking forward to heading to my favorite wine shop Le Cantine. Here you can taste over 140 wines and 20 olive oils before making your selection. They feature over 1000 labels from all over Tuscany as well as a wine museum.  We will also be making a reservation for lunch at my favorite restaurant in the Greve area.  Ristoro Di Lamole is set high up on a hill in the small town of Lamole and if you are fortunate to have a nice day and a table on the terrace you can take in the incredible views of the Chianti area right to San Gimignano. If you get there don't miss the cheese tray at the end of your meal!  It features a wonderful truffled honey made by the restaurant.  In case you become addicted like me, they also sell it at the shop!

Next it's on to Positano on the Amalfi Coast where we will be staying at the beautiful Hotel Villa Gabrisa.  After driving all through Tuscany, here I am looking forward to just relaxing and walking around the village. Not to mention eating (a lot of) the delicious food and just sitting on our hotel balcony sipping wine. And yes, this will be the view from our room! Fantastico!

There are a few restaurants that have been recommended to me that I'm dying to try such as Da Adolfo on a small cove in Positano and Il Flauto di Pan in Ravello but I'm definitely interested in finding more so if you have a fav resto on the Amalfi Coast or even Capri I'd love to hear about it so I can add it to my list. I'd also love to hear your reviews if you've stayed at any of the hotels I've mentioned.

Ciao for now!

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