Our journey in Italy continues from Rome into the southern Tuscany region of Montepulciano. Join me as I share our travel log venturing from one small walled city to another and embracing everything the region has to offer.
Day 3 : After a busy 48 hours in Rome, we were eager to head into the countryside and experience all there is to offer from Tuscany. Since we did not rent a vehicle in Rome (I would not recommend driving in Rome!) we utilized a car service to take us back to the airport where we rented a mid-size SUV that would take us throughout Italy for the remainder of the trip. It was about a 2 hour drive into the Tuscany region and upon a recommendation from a dear friend, we opted to stop in Monticchiello for lunch. If there is ANY way you can fit this stop into your trip, you must! This is the cutest little walled city and lunch at Osteria la Porta was absolutely pure heaven. It was probably my favorite meal throughout the vacation. I must note that in order to get there, you will drive in the middle of nowhere with amazing views that all of sudden lead to this beautiful village on top of a hill. It’s worth the wander!
Wine Bottle Count : 11
After a lunch of a lifetime, we drove the remaining 35 minutes to our hotel in Montepulciano called Borgo Tre Rose. This is where we would be spending the next 4 nights. I was so excited to stay here because it was out in the countryside surrounded by its own vineyards and appeared absolutely tranquil. When we arrived, it exceeded all of our expectations. We dropped our bags off in the room, bought a bottle of their Rosé and sat by the pool as the sun went down. Thinking back on those first few hours spent at Borgo Tre Rosé, I remember feeling this sense of gratitude and amazement that I was sitting poolside at a resort in the Tuscan countryside. It was official, I was madly in love with Italy. We finished the evening with a lovely dinner at the restaurant where I ate cacio é pepe and we drank another bottle of red wine from their personal vineyards.
Wine Bottle Count : 13
Day 4 : The next morning, for those of us that were up, we just simply had to meander down to the restaurant for a complimentary breakfast spread complete with croissants, meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, eggs and espresso galore. It was a lazy morning overall spent lounging by the pool until we walked back up to have lunch again at the restaurant. It was just one of those days where we finally felt that we didn’t have to be anywhere but the present.
Wine Bottle Count : 15
After a quick nap we set off back into the city of Montepulciano (20 minute drive) which requires you to maneuver up these narrow, curvy roads until you come to a stop at the top of the hill. It’s basically park your car and walk from there (which is fine because you don’t want to keep driving on these roads!). It was a lovely evening of wandering around the small artisanal shops where we stopped to have an apertivo of wine tasting at La Dolce Vita followed by a dinner with a view at Caffè Poliziano. As with any dinner we ordered a feast of cheese and meats, bruschetta followed by delicious pasta dishes and wine.
Wine Bottle Count : 17
Day 5: What is really cool about the location of Montepulciano & Borgo Tre Rose is that within 15-30 miles there are neat, little villages that you head over to for the day. On this day we decided to venture towards the lake and ended up in Castiglione de Lago. It is another small, walled city sitting above the lake. This random adventure turned into one of our favorites and we have lots of goodies at our home because of it! As we are walking the streets this sweet young woman from the shop, L’Angolo del Buongustaio, beckons us over to try their fresh pecorino cheese. Since we aren’t one to pass up this kind of opportunity, we oblige. It was so delicious she ends up convincing us to sit and enjoy their famous charcuterie board complete with an assortment of meats, cheese, jams and wine.
As you can see from the photos below, the spread was enormous and ridiculously delicious. We loved it so much we ordered a case of wine, 2 cheese wheels and a handful of jams to ship back to the United States.
Wine Bottle Count : 19 bottles
I was enamored with the local couple and their golden retriever. Though we couldn’t speak each other’s languages we shared a passion for our dogs.
We probably would have stayed longer and wandered more of the small city but we had to rush back to our hotel as we had a private wine tour and tasting arranged. It was really neat to experience how an Italian vineyard makes their wine and they go above & beyond for a follow up tasting complete with an array of complimentary foods. Needless to say, it was time for a nap followed by yet another dinner at the restaurant that paired their wines with a 5 course meal. I think you could have rolled me back to my room.
Wine Bottle Count : 23 bottles
Day 6: The next day we actually drove back into Montepulciano because we finally had our lunch reservations for the infamous Osteria Acquacheta! A reservation is needed and we had trouble making one over the phone (they don’t accept them over email) so when we were there the night before we made a reservation for lunch the day after next. We cannot recommend eating here enough and it’s definitely a meal made for lasting memories. The “butcher” is an absolute character and from your little seat in the smallest of dining rooms you can watch him hack away at a large slab of beef in which he brings you the piece, raw, for you to approve. Let’s just put it this way, vegetarians and vegans would struggle here! The 4 of us shared a 2,330 kg steak along with this most amazing black truffle and pecorino cheese appetizer served with warm bread. Of course…. you order the house red. The whole experience was absolutely marvelous and I’m so glad we went back to enjoy it!
Wine Bottle Count : 25
A little more walking and sightseeing after that big of meal is always good for the soul.
After lunch we headed back towards the area of our hotel but took a left where a sign pointed to another city called Cortona. Again, another gorgeous small village nestled on top of a very large hill (they could be mountains) that had all the charm you envision when visiting Tuscany. What we came to love about all of these little villages is that the more you wander the more you fall in love with each of them. I came to love watching that window of time before dinner (apertivo) when the locals come out and sit on the benches to catch up with one another. If I knew the language better I would have joined in to learn some of their stories.
After browsing the streets and shops we stopped for a light dinner (which of course is pasta) at Bottega Baracchi. We made the mistake of just jumping on the first table outside only to the find later that downstairs was this amazing cellar where you could dine, drink wine and experience this whole other environment.
Wine Bottle Count : 27
It was truly an incredible 4 days in the Montepulciano region of Tuscany. I would go back and stay there again in a heartbeat. If you dream of living like Diane Lane does in Under the Tuscan Sun, then this is the place for you. (Speaking of that movie, scenes of it was filmed in Cortona!)