From one piece of paradise to another – Provence to Tuscany – day four
Although we were all a little sad to be leaving the Provence countryside, we weren’t too disappointed as we were very much looking forward to our next destination…Tuscany! After saying goodbye to our French Travel Director, Jonathan, we had a short flight to Rome, where we were greeted by our Italian Travel Director, Marco. Tuscan born and bred, Marco was full of enthusiasm and life and loved sharing his world with us over the few days we spent in Italy.
We all enjoyed some relaxing downtime and reflecting over the changing landscape as we drove from Rome to our home for the next two nights, Hotel Villa Il Poggiale, located in the Tuscan countryside just outside of Florence.
A morning with Libero and an afternoon in Florence – day five
Today we participated in a Tuscan cooking school in the Chianti hills. First things first, we headed into town and met our colourful chef Libero, who took us to the fruit and vegetable market of Sant Ambrogio in central Florence. The array of fruit and vegetable was incredible! In between shopping for our ingredients, I bought the most beautiful punnet of strawberries I have ever eaten; they were of a miniature size, however their fresh flavour and taste definitely made up for their small nature.
Libero was such a character and made sure we all had fun while we chose the best ingredients for the dishes we were preparing. Next stop was the kitchens of Libero’s restaurant, Tre Pini in the Chianti hills. We had an absolute ball making our own bruschetta, a delicious soup, pappa al pomodoro, panzanella, fresh pasta and a fresh locally grown salad. After a very well prepared lunch (under the guidance of Libero of course) we dined on beautiful food and wine, while singing and dancing to some amazing Tuscan music. Libero and his friends made sure everyone had a dance and got involved in the fun. Following a memorable lunch, we drove to one of Marco’s (our Travel Director) favourite Hidden Treasures, on the outskirts of Florence. Overlooking the beautiful city is San Miniato al Monte – a church just above the Piazzale Michelangelo which includes works of art by Brunelleschi. The church was stunning and so quiet and peaceful; it had a beautiful, historical ambience about it.
Guests of the Count! – day six
After sadly saying goodbye to our dream Tuscan villa, we set off to the much anticipated Be My Guest lunch at the home of Count Francesco Miari Fulcis, just outside of Florence, in the hills of Fiesoles. The Count owns an ancient olive oil estate which dates back to the 15th century, it was incredible. The Count welcomed us into his amazing estate and showed us around the stunning property. We even went inside the olive oil mill to learn exactly how olive oil is made. We wandered the gardens and checked out one of the estates incredible villa’s where the classic ‘A Room with a View‘ was filmed.
After some olive oil tasting and some beautiful Tuscan cuisine using ingredients produced on the farm and in the local area, we departed from our Be My Guest experience and headed off to one of the most beautiful cities in the world for our final evening together – Roma! We had a wonderful final evening together and (another) absolutely amazing meal at Cabiria Restaurant, located in the heart of Rome. The restaurant had specially prepared a huge long ‘last supper’ style table for our final dinner together. After dinner, the evening finished with a special tour of the Eternal City, taking in the illuminated sights including St Peter’s Basilica and the Colosseum. As the evening came to an end, we sadly said our farewells to our new friends, all departing with very fond memories of our Trafalgar Insider experiences and swapping addresses and contact details ensuring we all kept in touch – ready to plan our next Trafalgar adventure together!