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Planning our first trip to Tuscany, I'm...

Albany, New York
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Planning our first trip to Tuscany, I'm...

My girlfriend and I are going to Italy for the first time during the first week of June. We're both fairly experienced travelers, but Tuscany has me overwhelmed. We were originally only going to Rome and Venice, but decided we couldn't go all the way there and not at least spend a little time in Tuscany. We have a hotel in Gaiole in Chianti for 2 nights, and we have a rental car. We're planning on spending one day in Florence and one day driving around in Tuscany visiting wineries and sights. We've done wine touring before, in northern Virginia and in the Finger Lakes, but the more research I've been doing the more I get the feeling that wine touring in Tuscany is a different beast. Every place I look at seems like you need a reservation. When we've done tours before we've always been much more free-form, picking an area and then wandering about looking for wineries or scenic sights, expecting that we could just walk in and do a tasting when we found a place. Is this not a thing in Tuscany? Or do most of the larger vineyards have a walk-in tasting room and they just don't advertise it? Also if anyone has recommendations of wineries that have a larger selection of sweeter wines, especially Vinsanto.

Edited: 09 May 2018, 05:38
3 replies to this topic
Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Planning our first trip to Tuscany, I'm...

You don't just "drop in" to most European wineries I know of, nor do people usually go straight to a tasting room - this is generally in order to ensure that people PAY for tastings, but also because the idea is to learn something about the products (if you just want to drink different wines, you can buy them by the glass at a wine bar..)! I did read somewhere that Antinori (in Bargino) has tasting options for casual visitors, but their website only mentions booking tours for tasting, although you can always freely visit the museum and shop. I believe you can also drop in at Casalvento (Radda in Chianti: http://www.livernano.it/en/casalvento-wine-cellar/).

But I am concerned that you seem to be proposing to combine drinking with driving. I hope one of the 2 of you (i.e. the driver!) will be abstaining, because it is very easy to misjudge quantities when tasting.

It also sounds as though you intend to drive into and out of Florence: if so, I hope you have read up on the ZTL rules and learned from the many complaints in this forum from people who got caught out (and don't find out until a year or so later..). Btw there's also a ZTL in Gaole in Chianti: …gaiole.si.it/news/nuovo-regolamento-ztl

Eagle River, Alaska
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796 posts
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2. Re: Planning our first trip to Tuscany, I'm...

A little more information please. You said you are going to Italy the first week of June, seeing Rome and Venice and then 2 nights in Gaiole where you are going to day trip to Florence one day and drive around Tuscany the other. Is this correct? You can drive about and find some wineries who will have "Wine tasting" signs written in English and those welcome people without a reservation. These are also catering to tourists. Quality wineries you must make an appointment. We feel the best way to "taste" wine is by asking the waiter to recommend a wine that goes with the food you have ordered at lunch and/or dinner.You don't have to finish the bottle. You are allowed to take it with you.

Albany, New York
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3. Re: Planning our first trip to Tuscany, I'm...

@qaminari Definitely no drinking and driving, usually my girlfriend just smells and maybe takes a tiny sip if it is something interesting, but she has a very narrow range of wines she actually likes so she usually leaves most of the tasting to me. I'm very glad I posted if for no other reason than the ZTL. I swear I read pages about driving in Italy for an hour and never saw a mention of them. I saw the sign in a list of international signs, but assumed it was the equivalent of a Do Not Enter sign in the US, hadn't really figured out that they were entire areas off limits. We had already decided to drive to Piazzale Michelangelo to park and then walk/bus the rest of the day primarily because we figured it would be a nightmare trying to park or get anywhere in the city center, but our car rental drop-off is right near the train station and it never would have occurred to me not to just follow the google maps directions there (which takes me right through zone O). I can't believe they don't factor something like that in.

I think the difference in wine tasting can be chalked up to cultural differences (read American consumerism). Everywhere I've gone wine tasting in the US, the standard is to have a big tasting room with servers at counters who provide information about the wines and accept payments. It's a very "fast food" approach in comparison.

Edited: 09 May 2018, 07:35
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