Posted by: illinigirl | March 15, 2009

The research continues

I have so much to catch up on here!

My life has been so FLIPPING busy that I cannot take it.  Last week was ridiculous.  This weekend was ridiculous.

The good news is, I have no plans on Monday or Tuesday, and I’m NOT planning anything!  Wednesday, I have the rodeo.  Thursday, I volunteer. This weekend, I see Kerri at some point. . . but no other major plans yet.  The bad news is, I’m 99% sure that work is going to be awful this week.  Also, I made a major scheduling snafu and have to fix that ASAP.  😦  I need to clone myself.

There are sooooo many things to look forward to this year though. . . and my #1 thing. . . ITALY!

Not trying to make you all jealous, but I’m just so excited about this.  Liz and I reserved our wine tour this week.  It’s going to be a day trip outside of Florence in Tuscany.  We will have our own private guide.  Both of these guides have awesome reviews, and I already LOVE this lady based on the emails we’ve traded back and forth!  Now, I saw a review online, but was a bit skeptical at first. . . but did some major searching, and all reviews of these people were incredible.

I’ve shared this with a few of you via email. . . but check out this review from Trip Advisor (I omitted the name b/c I don’t wanna necessary draw ppl from that site and cannot really endorse her yet)!

Ok, so you have decided you want to see all the treasures of Tuscany and to immerse yourself in its beauty.

You want a relaxing day discovering the wineries, exploring the hilltowns, tasting the typical foods of the region all in air-conditioned comfort with an expert guide……but, you don’t want to pay a fortune!

Well, this is the situation I found myself in. Our planned travel date for Tuscany was July 10. We were on a limited budget but wanted to enjoy all that Tuscany had to offer. So, I set off on a quest to find just the person to help us realise our dream.

After many months of researching on Trip Advisor and other tourist sites I decided that the names N  and A regularly surfaced on the Florence and Tuscany forums.

I contacted A who booked us in for July 10. Unfortunately, as the day approached A was unable to take us on the tour due to last minute work commitments.

It is rare that he needs to cancel but when he does he ensures that a colleague is able to fill in for him. On this occasion the colleague was N.

So, on the morning of July 10, the lovely N arrived at our villa in Panzano-in-Chianti. We loved her straight away. A bubbly, charismatic ball of energy and excitement…that was N!

N arrived in tow with a friend, F.  F was to be our driver and N, our guide. N had only a couple months before broke her foot, so, unable to drive herself she had engaged the services of her friend.

We visited a family owned and operated winery, Fattoria di Montagliari. We enjoyed tasting the wines, oils and balsamic vinegar and N and F were a wealth of knowledge about the Chianti Classico region. I purchased a lovely 1999 Riserva, a red that turned out to go perfectly with our dinner I whipped up at our villa that night.

A visit to Macelleria Falorni in Greve followed where we were able to try some oils, salame and cheeses. We were left on our own here to do some shopping for dinner.

We also visited Castellina-in-Chianti, Monteriggioni, San Gimignano and Siena.

In the small hilltowns we were left to discover them on our own, take photos and to grab a gelato, then meet N back at the car – no stress, just take our time – that was the instructions!!

Upon arriving in Siena, N took us on a guided walking tour of the city and explained in depth about the recent Palio that had taken place among many other fascinating bits of information about Siena.

N is currently in the process of moving from Siena to Florence. N has been studying to work as a tour guide in Florence at the museums, galleries, churches etc and will still be taking her much loved tours of the Tuscany region.

The highlight of our 5 week Italian holiday was our tour with N. This was our first visit to Italy and we were so impressed by N’s wealth of knowledge and also by her fun-loving, bubbly nature. And, let me tell you, her English is better than mine!!!!! And I’m a born and bred Aussie!!!

N is half Swedish/half Italian and after the tour I felt like we had been friends for ever.

I can’t tell you just how much my 10 year old son and I enjoyed the tour. But, one thing I can tell you after many months of research it was certainly the least expensive of all the tours operating in the Chianti region.

Our tour went for 8 hours and we truly had one of the most magical days of our lives.

I’m sure if you contact N she will be able to customise a tour to suit you personally. My son loved stopping off to have his photo taken in a field of sunflowers – they were as tall as he was! He also loved the Torture Museum in San Gimignano (boys!!!!). And, Mum? Well I just loved the relaxation of being driven through the Italian countryside with a designated drive – hic! hic! ;o)

How excited am *I*????????????????????????????????????????  If Liz and I run away and never come back (and pull the “Under the Tuscan Sun” manuever that queenlizzle referenced. . . will you all come and visit???



  1. feel free to pull an under the tuscan sun manuever. i’ll visit.

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