Our time in Florence was delightful, but it’s moving-on time. The next phase of our journey is a leisurely tour of Tuscany. We’ll be spending ten days touring with the folks from Audley Travel. It’s a private tour, not a group tour, so we can still be flexible.
After finishing our packing, we went down to the lobby to meet our driver. When I opened the door, he was just approaching as he had to park around the corner. We both saw each other at the same time and with a big smile he queried: “Mr Herkey?”
He helped Sue with her bag and led us to the car. We made proper greetings and loaded in our bags. We are getting so spoiled with the private rides in Mercedes.
We set off for Gaiole in Chianti. It turns out that Gaiole is where our driver lives. The ride over went so fast, as we were chatting about the area, the wines and some Italian customs.
It wasn’t so fast that we didn’t get to enjoy the beautiful landscape as we drove along. Lush green valleys, vineyards, trees that were beginning to change color and wonderful little towns.
The final stretch of road to Gaiole was a curving roller coaster ride through the Tuscan hills. The panoramic views were just incredible. Sadly, with narrow roads and traffic, we were not able to stop for pictures along the way.
The short road up to the hotel was lined with Cypress trees just like in the movies. When we stopped, we were actually staying in a castle – Castello di Spaltenna. Our driver made sure they took our bags and then bid us arrivederci.
The first thing that catches your eye as you head in is an old bell tower and chapel. Both have been dated back to at least 1060 AD.
Having arrived too early to check in, we sat in the garden area for a while just soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the views. We explored a bit and found the game room. A little dart action and then a game of billiards to pass the time. Before we finished, they found us to let us know our room was ready – we finished since I was leading.
We checked in and our room was very nice with dazzling views.
After settling in to our room, we went down to the “Terrace” for a bit of lunch. We called it lunch in paradise. We both had a caprese salad, then Sue had pasta and I had a club sandwich. We had started with a glass of Prosecco and then a glass of Chianti from the Castello’s own vineyards.
We relaxed for the afternoon while sorting through photos and reviewing our plans for the next couple of days. We even took a little nap.
When dinner time came around, we ate in the more casual of the hotel’s two restaurants. While the town is just down the road, neither of us felt comfortable walking the twisty road in the darkness. Better safe than sorry.
The restaurant is located in a basement room with a vaulted ceiling. You could dine outside, but it was a bit too chilly for that. We had a pleasant dinner with the rest of the English speaking tourists. It seems to be Brits and Americans for the most part.
After dinner, we headed up to the room to get a good night’s rest. Tomorrow we’ll be touring and tasting wines.