The following morning we woke up and went to the American Cemetery in Florence. It was right down the road from our B&B, so Josh and I thought it would be cool to show his mom and Mike. The first time Josh and I were there was back in 2006 when his "uncle" Joe took us there on Memorial Day weekend. Ironically, we were back there on Memorial Weekend this year too. The property is beautiful and tells the story about the American troops that fought in Italy during WWII. It was an amazing early fall day and the colors on the trees were starting to change. I love the fall!! It's my favorite season.
From the American Cemetery we went to a TINY town that Silvia, our B&B hostess, recommended for us. The town is called Montereggioni and is literally just a castle in the middle of wine country. The castle was built by Siena between 1214 and 1219, and the current population according to Wikipedia is 9,165 people. However... I don't believe that is all inside the castle walls. I believe less than 500 people actually live inside the castle walls. The town was TINY!!
|Piazza Roma, Monterigioni (courtesy of Wikipedia)|
|inside the Fattoria- they had some great things!|
This wine rack was made out of an ancient
After enjoying the small medieval castle, we were on our way to a more famous medieval city, Siena. When you ask an Italian about Siena the typical response is "I LOVE Siena!" After visiting the city I can see why! Walking the streets really does make you feel like you have gone back in time. There are no cars allowed inside the inner ancient part of the city (except a select few residents and taxis) and the buildings have medieval flags showing you which neighborhood you are in. Walking down the cobblestone streets with brick buildings really makes you feel like you should be dressed in medieval garb. Siena is also famous in Italy for its horse race twice a year called "Il Palio". This is definitely one of the things on my bucket list that I would like to see! Each neighborhood had a horse and rider that rides for the prestige of winning. The first horse to cross the finish wins (with or without a rider). The course is in the main square of the city and the horses have to go around three times.
|The main square in Siena- this is where the race happens|
|A castle we entered, with the medieval flags|
|Where the horses enter the main square|
|part of the church in Siena that was never finished|
Unfortunately we had an appointment for a wine tasting to get to, so we were only able to spend about an hour in Siena. One regret is that we couldn't stay longer in Siena! But the wine tasting was nice and the property was beautiful. The host at the vineyard was very nice and showed us around. The vineyard, Rocca di Montegrossi, was named after a SUPER old church on the property, and it was also time for the vin santo grapes to start drying. We were there at a pretty amazing time.
|our host giving us the scoop at Rocca di Montegrossi|
|the ancient church on the property|
|grapes drying for Vin Santo|
Another wine tasting brought us to Felsina, which has an underground cellar that housed hundreds of barriques! It was amazing! The wine was super good and they also produced olive oil (which was also really good). Of course we ended up buying wine at both places (I don't know where we are going to store all this wine!) and we also bought some good olive oil. Poor Mike was still having some stomach issues that afternoon, so he spent the time at the second winery in the car sleeping. He must have caught some stomach bug because it lasted for a few days :(
|they have to use wax over the cork on Vin Santo barriques|
otherwise the corks will pop right out during the fermentation!
After a long and exciting day, we were ready for some good food and some sleep! We brought Josh's mom to one of our favorite restaurants, Cantinetta Rignana (Mike was still feeling bad so he stayed in and went to bed early). This time we decided to order the Bistecca Fiorentina... on top of a first course. The steak was so big, that it might as well have been the Old 96'er from The Great Outdoors!! After we saw the bill, we realized it was 1.8 kilograms (that’s almost 4 pounds!). We did our best to take it down... but there was no way we could finish that thing!
|The "Old 96'er"|
|us laughing- you can see the dog freaking out|
behind the gate
Next stop: Florence