For special offers, short stays, and discounted rates for all three properties, check their umbrella website. Rick: Wow, I'll be back next year for the artichoke festival. Rick: So this is the precious truffle? Our agriturismo [Agriturismo Cretaiole], perched on a bluff overlooking pristine farmland, is perfect for those who want to settle in and fully experience Tuscany. They race bareback like crazy while spectators go wild. Streets are lined with noble palazzos because Florentine nobility favored Montepulciano as a breezy and relaxed place for a summer residence. His St. Catherine is in spiritual ecstasy. We didn't stray from her directions and were rewarded with lovely drives through Tuscany and on the way to Orvieto all on back roads. The first participants to book choose one of seven itineraries — then others join until the van fills. Surrounded by stainless steel vats that produce 10,000 bottles a year, father and son monitor the process, carefully tasting and discussing the potential of this year's vintage. Before the race, competing neighborhoods gather for communal dinners that last well into the night. [lunch!]. This family-friendly farm welcomes visitors for weeklong stays (Sat–Sat) in six comfortable apartments. When in Tuscany, I team up with my friend and fellow tour guide, Roberto Bechi. Annie: That was the front door — to get inside the house — and it was made so narrow so that you couldn't possibly get inside wearing armor. Rick: Everybody's out. Tours by Roberto, led by Roberto Bechi or one of his guides, offers off-the-beaten-path minibus tours of the Sienese countryside (up to eight passengers, pickup at hotel). I hope that gives you something to start with. Rick: Mmmm! Siena is divided into 17 neighborhoods, or contrade. Between Florence and Rome is the region of Tuscany. We're grating some of those exquisitely pungent truffles on our pasta. When travel dreams take people to Italy, Tuscany is often their first stop. You can use your hands here. Like in any Italian city, the people of Siena are out and making the scene. With a few bottles of Orvieto Classico in our trunk, we're ready for more hill towns. The characteristic of the clay is that it keeps the water, the humidity, underground. For coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information, Roberto: Like this…. See the Travel Details above for recommendations highlighted in bold, excerpted from Rick's guidebooks. Rick: And people pay a lot of money for this? What to do? It looks like the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence because it was built under Florentine dominance five centuries ago. His mission: to empower Americans to have European trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening. I hope you've enjoyed our taste of Tuscany — from rich and exuberant Siena to the rustic and equally rich countryside. Many hotels won't take reservations until the end of May for the Palio, and even then they might require a four-night stay. The city's world-famous horse race happens twice a year, on July 2 and August 16. Matteo: Definitely! Call to find a time that fits their schedule; around lunchtime, you can arrange a "Zero Kilometer" tasting, with everything farm-made. And keep on travelin'! Isabella: We'll recognize that. Rick: No, don't eat it!…He ate it! Adamo: Ora vi faccio vedere, come…molto antico…attenzione! Characteristic tavernas serve local dishes in a grotto-chic atmosphere — this one [Taverna San Giuseppe] under a fine old medieval vault. Bread was given to the needy. In a slap to Church authorities, the well-fed monk looks bored as he seems to ignore a dying patient's confession. With its bold Renaissance facade — the Piccolomini family coat of arms immodestly front and center — the church dominates the piazza. A hundred bucks! Posted by Jadairtraveler (Seattle, Wa) on 12/19/20 09:24 PM. Tonight we're learning to make the local favorite — a pasta called "pici." Roberto: You find them near the oak trees. All over Europe, farms are renting rooms to travelers — now harvesting their rural charm as well as their produce to help make ends meet. Jump to bottom. It was a key trading center protected by a four-mile-long wall. Rick: This is the pilgrims' route! 129 posts. There's more tasting as the wine continues its long journey to the bottle. Many of these are agriturismos, offering good value accommodations to travelers. To cap our visit, Gianluca's mother is orchestrating the final touches of a delightful lunch — which of course includes homemade pasta. Roman ruins in Nimes; Avignon's papal palace; Van Gogh's Arles; the Rhone. Roberto also arranges Siena city walks. At their powdery workshop you can watch Roberto Chiti and Giorgio Finazzo at work, and they're delighted to share their art with visitors. See the Travel Details above for recommendations highlighted in bold, excerpted from Rick's guidebooks. Filled top to bottom with rare Etruscan artifacts, this museum — even with few English explanations and its dusty, old-school style — makes it easy to appreciate how advanced this pre-Roman culture was. Get inspired with Rick Steves’ recommended places to go and things to do, with tips, photos, videos, and travel information on Tuscany. Each day Bruno and Lucio open six or eight bottles, serve your choice by the glass, pair it with characteristic munchies, and offer fine music (guitars available for patrons) and an unusual decor (the place is strewn with bras). Explore Europe with Rick Steves, best-selling travel author and host of public television's "Rick Steves' Europe" and public radio's "Travel with Rick Steves." Twice a year that spirit shows itself in a five-century-old city-wide competition that culminates in a crazy horse race. Is Sangiovese grapes, it's only Sangiovese grapes. Roberto runs all-day minibus tours with a passion for local culture, hands-on experiences, and offbeat sights. The motion and realism captured by the fourth-century B.C. Note the loaves are cleverly stamped — to prevent resale. Start planning your … Rick: I can see why. Rick Steves' Europe Travel Guide | Tuscany offers a "dolce vita" mix of hearty cuisine, fascinating history, and gentle beauty. Beneath the tower, the City Hall [Civic Museum] is open to visitors. My Account. Crowning yet another ridge, Montepulciano welcomes visitors with views, villas, and vino. CRETAIOLE; SURROUNDINGS; Attractions; ACCOMMODATIONS; DIRECTIONS; FAQ; PHOTOS ; RATES & CONDITIONS; CONTACTS; New Cretaiole Video with Rick Steves. Year round it's the perfect temperature for wine…and the perfect humidity for cheese. Here in the heart of Italy, the rustic soul and historic charm collaborate, seducing travelers into tossing their itineraries and settling in. Complete Video Script. Tuscany is named after the Etruscan people who lived here centuries before this region was conquered by ancient Rome. Sangiovese grosso from Montalcino and traditional — aged five years. These towering marble arches hint at the immensity of the vision. Views from the terrace include the Tuscan countryside, and somewhere in the distance, on another hilltop, stands Montepulciano. The cathedral we see today was intended only to be a transept, or wing, off the envisioned nave, or main part of the church. A short and scenic drive south takes us through some of Italy’s finest wine country. Rick: So…quanto vecchio? Rick: I love it. The entire family was buried in several sarcophagi in this tomb. She starts by pouring the milk into a big kettle to warm. Rick: That's nice. This is good travel — a crossroads of American and Italian cultures, eating and drinking together, while creating memories of a lifetime. Long appreciated for its translucent quality, it was sliced thin to provide windows for Italy's medieval churches. Rick: So these little nubs supported wooden…add-ons, basically? A refreshing break from its more commercial neighbors, it's my favorite small town in Tuscany. Although Volterra is famously quiet late at night, this place is full of action. Its historic rooms were, for centuries, the home of Siena's government. Rick: Is that right? And this wedding is not arranged; it's based on love. Here…fantastic…perfect. When we arrived we toured the Pantheon, and then had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant, with not a turkey in sight. Every Saturday morning you can see the farmers, usually with a wool vest, a nice old hat… Siena offers a delicious range of opportunities to enjoy the hearty Tuscan cuisine. The owner, Giorgio, is happy to help his guests with sightseeing tips. If you give water, you stimulate the root to grow up to find the water. Get a cocktail — and, you know, it's not a cheap cocktail — but it comes with lots of nice munchies and…the best view in town. They had their own armies, raised their own taxes, even had their own systems of weights and measures. You could also consider taking the train to Siena, but I'm thinking renting at Orvieto may be easier. Roberto: The famous truffle. Reserve ahead for tours and tastings. The greatest artists of their day helped decorate Siena's cathedral. Complete Video Script. Roberto: Yes. Elegant Mueblè il Riccio ("The Hedgehog") offers 10 modern and spotless rooms, an awesome roof terrace, and friendly owners. Roberto: It's wonderful...with pasta. Roberto: It's to dig out the truffle…I see one! I'm Rick Steves, and we're exploring more of the best of Europe. Roberto: Well, this community brought back this artichoke from extinction. Rick: Original? Rick Steves' Europe. Medieval Siena was a self-assured republic, and this tower stands like an exclamation point — an architectural declaration of independence from both the pope and the emperor. Rick produces a best-selling guidebook series, a public television series, and a public radio show, and organizes small-group tours that take over 20,000 travelers to Europe annually. "Aperitivo" is Italian for "happy hour," basically. Annie: Exactly. Un Nobile — senta, Dottore. Rick: OK. And where do you find them? And the town that was named "Corsignano" was renamed "Pienza," after Pope Pius II. Jump to bottom. And you don't have to speak Italian to understand that Adamo believes they make excellent Nobile di Montepulciano right here. This is the land of two beloved local wines: Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Adamo and the Contuccis usually have a half-dozen bottles open, and at busy times, other members of their staff are likely to speak English. The dogs are given two commands: "Dov'è" means "Where is it?" The vineyards here produce some of the very best wines in the world. Attentive Matteo and his wonderful wait staff enjoy showing off their Etruscan wine cellar — be sure to venture down. The great sights of Siena date from long before the country of Italy existed. Rick: Siena!? Tuscany offers a dolce vita mix of hearty cuisine, fascinating history, and gentle beauty. This is your chance to try the Super Tuscan wine — a creative mix of international grapes grown in Tuscany. [How old?] But there are wineries that still have the vine from a century ago. This ornate but surprisingly secular shrine to the Virgin Mary is slathered with colorful art inside and out, from inlaid-marble floors to stained-glass windows. Like a people-friendly stage set, it's the heart of Siena, both geographically and metaphorically. On the outskirts of the town of Torrenieri, this is a quintessential family-run winery, with an emphasis on quality over quantity (only 20,000 bottles a year). Tuscany offers a dolce vita mix of hearty cuisine, fascinating history, and gentle beauty. I'm standing atop what would have been the front of that church. The Tuscan terrain is dotted by rustic yet noble farmhouses. It's "the sweet life" in Tuscany. The unfinished Duomo glumly looks on, wishing the city hadn't run out of money for its facade. It's worth strolling through the dramatic halls to see fascinating frescoes and portraits extolling Siena's greats, saints, and the city-as-utopia, when this proud town understandably considered itself the vanguard of Western civilization. 11/03/14 08:35 PM . (Go with an empty bladder as there are no WCs, and be prepared to surrender any sense of personal space.) Today, the hospital and its cellars are filled with fascinating exhibits (well-described in English). 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