Tuscany: Part I

Ten days in Tuscany. In other words, living the dream. I have loved every wine region I’ve visited (including South Africa and Provence), and Tuscany was extra special because my brother and his wife joined us. The only thing better than a family reunion is a family reunion in an amazing place! Bring on the vino!

Agriturismo Podere Spedalone

A close friend who loves wine, food and travel as much as I do recommended Podere Spedalone to me, and it earned my highest praise: we will definitely go back. Matt and I have an impossibly long travel list, so repeat trips are pretty rare. Podere Spedalone is one place that is simply worth returning to. In addition to checking all the boxes on my Tuscany wish-list, they make it so easy for parents to have the best holiday ever.

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Without further ado, here is Podere Spedalone as the Ultimate Tuscany Agriturismo:

  • Incredible, fresh food: the fruits and vegetables are grown on the property, and they age the cheeses themselves. We even got to walk through the cheese cave and hear about their experimentation with new flavours.
    • The breakfasts are incredible, with a full array of sweet, savoury, breads, cereals, meats, cheeses, eggs to order, fruit, and honestly I could go on. Breakfast is included.
  • Dinner is a truly special multi-course affair, served every night under the starry sky (weather permitting). Guests decide each morning whether they’d like to join. After an amazing experience on our first night, we decided to dine at Podere Spedalone throughout our stay. The excellent food, the convenience (not having to drive! bedtime for the kids!) and the perfect Tuscan setting made it an easy choice. Prosecco and beautiful appetisers are served before dinner. The wine selection is unique and reasonable, and they are also happy to open your bottles free of charge.
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Prosecco, scenery and sunset

  • Special accommodations for children: they happily offered to make our children fresh dinner to order at our convenience, because the adult aperitivo hour and dinner begins at 8pm (late for my babies). We were able to feed the kids and pack them off to bed, and then enjoy our drinks and dinner with friends and family. What a luxury!
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Our room abutted the al fresco dining area, so we could hear the kids if they cried

  • Convenience to Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Siena, San Gimignano and other Tuscan towns. Just do a bunch of day trips.
  • Stunning scenery

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  • Lovely staff: whether you are asking for another cappuccino at the indulgent breakfast, trying to decide which winery to visit, or simply chatting about the farm, you will be met with warmth and affability. They also offer cooking classes, organised winery tours and more.
  • Beautiful accommodations: the rooms are comfortable and very large, and the stone buildings are completely charming. Plus, there is a pool! Add pigs, chickens, cows and boars: they’re cute and funny, and the kids loved visiting.

I’ve heard that you really can’t go wrong with any highly rated agriturismo. After our stay at Podere Spedalone and seeing a few others, I’m sure that we made a markedly superior choice. Some agriturismos don’t offer dinner, and compared to the luxury of a superb meal with my kids asleep in the next room, I can’t imagine having to drive out to dinner every single night. Our friends without kids made the same choice when they stayed.

Pienza

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Pienza is tiny, but it’s worth a visit. In my opinion, it’s better for a stroll and a sundowner than a full day. If you want to eat a meal there, make a reservation at one of the highly rated places. Otherwise, wander the cute stone streets and take in the sweeping views from the city walls. Have a snack overlooking the hills.  Then head back to Spedalone for dinner!

Montalcino

Montalcino is a quintessential Tuscan town, with stone walls rising out of the hills and rolling landscapes as far as the eye can see. There are several adorable wine shops where you can taste a range of local Brunellos before you buy.

Montalcino Area Wineries

NostraVita Estate: This family-run winery is an art gallery as well as a vineyard. Visiting NostraVita is an extremely unique experience, and ends with a beautiful tasting in the garden. You will tour their art studio and workshop as well as the vineyards, and see their sculptures dotted throughout the hills. It’s very intimate and they will arrange their day around your visit, so you must make the appointment in advance. They make delicious Brunello and Rosso, with hand-painted labels and limited production. Note: Be sure to mention that you need the tour in English, if you don’t speak Italian.

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona: This is a much larger operation and it’s fine to visit for a tasting without making a reservation. The views are completely stunning and the wine is fantastic, so I definitely recommend it. They really took their time to explain all the wines as we went through the tasting, and if the kids weren’t losing their minds, we would have happily stayed for a glass. Not to worry! That’s what buying bottles is for.

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P.S. A Quick Take On Bologna

This is obviously not in the Pienza area, but the kids and I flew into Bologna for this trip. We made our way to La Sberla Bistrot for some tagliatelle al ragù and vino, pictured below! Matt met us for dinner at L’Arcimboldo, where you must try the lasagna bolognese. Both restaurants were child friendly, offering high chairs and kind smiles for the little ones, and both require reservations.

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It would have been much more convenient to our Agriturismo to fly into Florence, but also double the price. You can do worse than one day and night in Bologna, with its pink buildings, beautifully decorated archways, and ancient central square.

La Sberla Bistrot: You can make a reservation by sending them a Facebook message. Otherwise, I recommend arriving right when they open.

L’Arcimboldo: I called them to make a reservation, but you can also make one online. As always, let them know how many high chairs you need, and they will be prepared.

Stay Tuned for Part 2:

Siena, Montepulciano and San Gimignano! My biggest challenge with this trip was obviously the huge number of photos that I wanted to share. What can I say… Tuscany is picturesque!

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Podere Spedalone

4 thoughts on “Tuscany: Part I

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