Italy!!! Rome, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Corsignano (Vagliglia – Chianti)

Rome is as of now, the greatest city in the world to me. You have such a rich history, combined with great people, and some of the best food on this planet. Pasta, Pizza, Gelato……what more do you want? Wine!?!?!? 🙂

I have always enjoyed pasta, but have always avoided it like the plague because it was just ok and I can easily gain weight eating all those carbs. In the last 9 months I have lost 30lbs so I entered this trip not caring about how much I ate. Well that was a blessing in disguise. The pasta in Italy is and can be quite different than anything we have in the States for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, there is some great pasta, but on this trip I encountered pasta on at least 6 occasions that flipped my switch. From a new pasta Pici, to trying a pesto sauce on pasta that now ranks #1 on my all time pasta dishes qualify this trip to life enhancing and changing. I will now make more pasta, sauces and continue enhancing my culinary skills by continuing to use more often fresh ingredients and making dishes at home made versus packaged (sauces and pastas).

We rented an apartment in the Trastevere area of Rome, rented rooms from a converted farm house (villa), and stayed at a quaint little Casa (B n B “esque”). In all, each had huge its own uniqueness which made our experience special and I really have to appreciate what I have had the opportunity to enjoy in life. I consider myself fortunate!

The apartment in Rome was nothing special, I was honestly disappointed upon arrival knowing it was about $100 euro ($E100) per night. It was tiny, hot, and the bathroom was small and the toilet flusher sucked. But what made this choice unique was all about location, location, location.

Location was central to most all major attractions. We walked everywhere! It was awesome. Yes our feet were tired (Kristi’s toes actually bruised!), but it was worth it. If you are not an avid runner who buys your shoes a half size large please buy yourself a pair of shoes that are! 🙂

We were 100 feet from a coffee bar that turns into a night spot bar in the evening. We would wake up, grab a cappuccino and pastry (maybe fresh squeezed OJ if in the mood) and start our day. What we didn’t know is our area was a hopping neighborhood bustling with people in the evenings. There are restaurants, shopping, cafes, and night clubs everywhere. You can spend a day just exploring Trastevere if you choose. We spent an evening at our coffee bar (at night turned regular bar) just having a cocktail and people watching for 3 hours. $E10 baby! Oops, that’s an inside joke. LOL.

Trastevere was worth every penny for that apartment, even if it was that small and uncomfortable. 🙂

Next we went villa hunting in Montepulciano. We came upon a great converted farmhouse and our host Giacomo was a fun guy. Having a partner like Kristi is perfect because when we need something from a man, Kristi steps in with her charm and works it. Likewise, when a woman, I step in with mine. Its a great blend and gets us everything we need most of the time. 🙂 She steps in and negotiates for us to stay at the farmhouse on a day by day basis (usually 3 day minimum) for only $E70. This place has great views and a killer pool and is only 5 minutes from centro di Montepulciano.

After 2 nights we decide to villa hunt in Siena for our next adventure. We arrive in Siena on wed and it was very confusing to navigate this larger city. The signage was not as good. We visit the city with its many tourists and decide we had seen plenty. The main Piazza was nice, the Duomo gorgeous, but it just didn’t have the charm we were looking for. We called a couple villas and didn’t get hits, they were booked. I spoke to a woman named Rosalda and I called her back to work the charm, it worked, she led me to Casa Lucia. It was three houses converted to what was similar to a B n B here in the States. It was perfect!!! It overlooked vineyards and was not booked at all. I actually think it was only us. 🙂

At $E84 it was equipped and had the charm we wanted. Bellisimo! We asked the owner for a dinner recommendation and he led us to La Tiverna! You will see my reviews of that excellent must visit restaurant. We did some wine tasting and decided to stay an extra night there since we enjoyed it so much there and since they were not booked it was easy to stay.

What I didn’t realize my first trip to Italy is just how different the cities are. I visited Siena, Montalcino, and Montepulciano my first trip but failed to recognize just how unique each is respectively.

Rome – Trastevere, Vatican, Basilica, Colisseum, Spanish Steps, Campo di Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pincio gardens, shopping, nightlife, farmers markets, the local peeps, churches, architecture, FOOD, enough said. (A+)

Montepulciano – beautiful and very spread out with their vineyards. Great for more affordable wine. A great central location for travelers to get to Rome in 2 hours or Florence in 1.5 hours. Also you can make day trips to Siena, San Gigmig, Montalcino, etc. A touch larger than Montalcino, more green also. We’re not impressed with many restaurants but did one review. (A-)

Montalcino – Has always been one of my favorites because of its wine. I also like the quaintness of the region and it is pretty easy to maneuver. My former favorite city. Also nice restaurants. I will post 2 restaurant reviews because both were excellent. (A-)

Siena – larger more touristy city. Plenty of nice shopping and beautiful history and Duomo. We preferred more quaint and off the beaten path. (C+)

Chianti / Corsignano / Vagliagli / N Siena region – excellent little cities. Talk about character. The Chianti region is majestic. Yes, majestic. It is breathtaking. By far, the best and greenest landscape in Tuscany that we saw! If you are in love, wanting some loving, or want that feeling of being in love you have to go. I now have a new favorite small city/region. Go to the Chianti area! 2 restaurant reviews coming…. (A)

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