The next morning, we woke up and climbed the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. The stairwells were tiny, with barely room for those going up and those coming down to pass each other by. At times they spiraled so tight, I felt dizzy. It was a relief at each landing to get out, feel the breeze, and take pictures. The view was amazing.

After our climb, we grabbed breakfast (cappucino, cafe, and croissants) at an outdoor cafe on the Piazza della Repubblica. Then it was off to our B&B in Siena, with two winery stops along the way.

Our first stop was Antinori Winery. One of the oldest and biggest wineries in Tuscany, I also felt it was also one of the most modern and commercialized. My husband and I have done a lot of wine tasting (even got married at a winery!) and I felt like this winery tour was a little on the impersonal side. We were in a group of about twelve or so and we watched three different videos along the tour.

Our trip to Italy. What we saw, ate, drank and much more to help you with your upcoming visit. Highly recommend Italy for your next vacation or getaway!It seemed as though the winery wanted to show off their theater, auditorium, and wine shop as much as how/where their wines are produced and stored. We did have lunch at their restaurant, and it was very good. We split a tray of meats and cheeses and a pasta dish, along with a bottle of chianti.

Our second winery stop was like hitting the wine jackpot. I found Livernano-Castelvento Winery, or rather, they found me, on Twitter. We decided to check them out. We pulled up to the small hotel/winery shop and the parking lot had one car in it.

Inside there were two ladies finishing up a wine tasting and the very small counter. I was worried that this winery wouldn’t be that great after all. When the ladies in front of us finished up, paid for their bottle, and left, the woman at the counter, Julia, poured us a glass of the white to share.

Although we prefer reds, it was decent; we’ve found that we seem to prefer Italian white varieties to those in California. Then we tried the rose. We’ve been drinking a lot of rose this summer, and this one was delicious. As Julia talked to us about wine, I glanced down at the tasting notes sheet and noticed numbers off to the side of the rose – 6/12/36. I was trying to figure out what they meant and it dawned on me that those were the prices per bottle.

I nudged my husband and his eyes widened. $6 for really good rose? And then Julia let us know that if we shipped to the US, the price would drop to $5 a bottle. Heck yeah! We also tried 4 more reds, a sangiovese/merlot blend, a sangiovese/cabernet blend (delicious!), and their more aged versions. Julia also let us try some of the winery’s olive oil and then we decided to make a purchase. We shipped a case of wine and oil back and took two bottles of wine and an olive oil with us.

Seeing that there was nobody else around, Julia asked us if we wanted to look around the winery. She locked the front door and then took us around, showing us where the grapes are crushed, the tanks and barrels they’re fermented and aged in, the bottling and labeling machines, and where the bottles are stored for aging. That was definitely the winery experience that I was hoping for – someone who would talk to us and get excited about the where they work and what they do.

In Siena that night, we went to a restaurant that was carved/built into part of the town’s wall. It was a dark, stony combination of castle and art gallery – there were cool pictures on the wall and thumpy, European-disco-y music playing in the background. We ordered a bottle of Chianti classico and two courses: my husband and I both got pasta dishes and a roast, stuffed pork tenderloin. My pasta was an eggplant ravioli – so delicious, I was scraping my plate clean with pieces of bread. We of course ended our night with gelato in the Piazza del Campo.

Coming up: Medieval Times

Our trip to Italy. What we saw, ate, drank and much more to help you with your upcoming visit. Highly recommend Italy for your next vacation or getaway!