Three Must-Try Tuscan Experiences
Once you're done appreciating the stunning scenery and enjoying another plate of pasta, what else can you do in this part of the world? Well, glad you asked.
Here are three experiences we think are well worth doing during your visit to Tuscany.
1. Truffle Hunt
If you're a fan of truffles (the mushroom kind, not the chocolate kind), this is a no-brainer. The experience essentially involves following a truffle hunter and his dog (the most important member of the group) in vast expanses of land, while they look for this elusive treasure. Once the dog has sniffed its way into a 'yes there could be, maybe, perhaps something here' position, the truffle hunter gets to work to try and figure out if there is something literally beneath the surface. He gets down on his knees and starts digging, and using a vanghetto (a hook-like instrument), may eventually discover that his furry buddy was right.
It is fascinating to watch the hunting dog do his thing and the understanding between the truffle hunter and the dog. If you're lucky, the truffle hunter finds something, lets you smell it, and take a picture. Some experiences also involve a post-hunt lunch where the fruits of his labour are served to guests. We had a fabulous time when we partook in this experience last year.
If you're in Montepulciano and want to try this out, consider doing it through Valdichiana Living (we don't get anything if you do - it's just a suggestion!).
2. Wine Tasting
Wine tasting as opposed to wine buying. Tuscan wine is renowned the world over. It is possible to buy numerous types of wine in the little villages of Tuscany. However, a proper wine tasting is an entirely different, educational, and enriching experience.
The tasting can vary greatly, depending on the size and winemaking style of the winery. A more boutique winery may have a more informal approach to it, as opposed to a larger established winery selling thousands of bottles that may require reservations to be made months in advance. In both cases however, the winery would give you a choice as regards which and how many wines you wish to try, and would also offer a tour of the actual wine-making facilities/the cellar.
The tasting itself would focus on:
the composition of the wine
type and quality of grapes used
notes regarding the taste and nature of the wine; and
a bit of history about the winery and perhaps also the winemaker(s).
There are several excellent wines and wineries in Montepulciano. Some of our favourites include:
Il Macchione - a small winery with 25,000 bottles of annual production, made only from the Sangiovese grape, by our friends, Simone and Leonardo;
Boscarelli - a larger winery with 110,000 bottles of produced annually; they make their Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with the Sangiovese grape and other local varieties such as Canaiolo;
Poliziano, a big producer with 600,000 bottles in annual production; in addition to Sangiovese, they also use some 'foreign' grapes such as Merlot.
If you ever have an opportunity to go to a wine tasting, grab it! If you can wait till this summer, come and taste our wine at Poggio Golo. 😊
3. Thermal Spas
Tuscany is famous for its thermal spas and wellness centres. These range from natural hot springs to posh spas with thermal pools of varying temperatures.
Bagno San Filippo is your best bet if you want a more nature-made variety. It has multiple waterfalls, calciferous formations, and a natural path along the river that provides easy access. You can see locals using the mud from the springs as a natural exfoliator and general curer of all things when you're there. Bonus: the hot springs are free!
If you're up for a more luxurious experience, head over to Terme San Giovanni at Rapolano Terme. A fantastic wellness centre with thermal pools, a spa, and a cute little cafe. We spent a Thursday morning there (because what else is there to do on a Thursday), and loved it. The pools were stunning, as was the scenery. We finished it with a light lunch while taking in the breathtaking views. Highly recommended.
Ci vediamo presto (we'll see each other soon)!
Paari & Niall