A Tuscan Adventure to Remember

Nov 15, 2023 Avatar Lisa Guadagno Lisa Guadagno

My Italy trip this year was a journey I will forever cherish in my travel career. This trip was more than just a vacation; it was a transformative experience. Traveling with my husband and cousins who had never been overseas was a reminder of the power of exploration and the thrill of discovering new cultures. It was a reminder that, even in the face of unexpected obstacles, travel is a gift that brings joy, connection, and personal growth.

Our adventure kicked off in the captivating city of Florence. From the very start, we were enveloped in a world of warmth and friendliness. Hotel Savoy where we stayed exuded a sense of welcoming that was perfect for introducing my cousins, who had never left their home country before, to international travel. Florence embraced us with open arms, creating an unforgettable experience right from the start.

Florence, a city that oozes history and culture from every nook and cranny, proved to be an incredible first stop. We wandered through its winding cobblestone streets, immersing ourselves in the sights and sounds of this bustling city. One standout moment was our visit to the awe-inspiring Duomo. My cousins insisted on attending Mass there. To our astonishment, we discovered that the priest was originally from the same Southern California town as us. He had relocated to Florence 30 years ago, creating a warm sense of connection in this foreign land.

Nights in Florence were equally enchanting, with the city’s vibrant energy drawing us in. As we strolled along the riverbank, across the iconic Ponte Vecchio, we witnessed the joyous spirit of the locals, including children playing in the streets late into the night. Florence exuded an infectious sense of happiness, and it seemed to envelop the entire city.

Our journey then led us into the heart of Tuscany, where we found ourselves at Castello di Banfi il Borgo in Montalcino, a charming hotel nestled amidst the picturesque vineyards. The scenery was nothing short of breathtaking, and our rooms exuded the true essence of Tuscany. Yet, what truly made this stop special was a cooking class we participated in with Locanda Demetra & Montalcino Cooking School. We were introduced to the various herbs used in Tuscan cuisine, with each herb described in intricate detail. We rolled up our sleeves and made pasta from scratch, prepared a mouthwatering veal dish, and whipped up a delectable tiramisu. The best part? We were gifted with the recipes so we could recreate these culinary delights at home. It was just the four of us, cooking and savoring every bite in a beautiful yard overlooking the rolling hills of Tuscany.

Our next destination was the charming small town of Cuomo Castelo de Nero, outside of Montalcino. My husband, a passionate wine enthusiast, went above and beyond here. He bought so much wine that we had to purchase an additional suitcase to accommodate it all. We discovered a specific wine, Barolo wine, that is only produced in Montalcino, and it undergoes a rigorous process to be classified as Brunello, the highest DOCG classification. Learning about the difference between a true Brunello and red table wine was fascinating. My husband acquired every available bottle, each meticulously labeled with its origin and year. Our hotel room essentially transformed into a makeshift wine cellar, with each precious bottle nestled among his clothing. Remarkably, each bottle of wine made it safely back home.

The trip had been nothing short of perfect until the day of our return flight. A strike had caused our flight to be canceled, leaving us stranded in Rome for just four hours. Instead of dwelling on disappointment, we seized the opportunity and embraced the “When in Rome” philosophy. We sprinted through the city, capturing photos of iconic landmarks and creating unforgettable memories.

As I reflect on this remarkable journey, I can’t help but emphasize the importance of making the best of unexpected challenges while traveling. Our canceled flight was beyond our control, but we chose to embrace the adventure it presented. In those four hours, we felt the magic of Rome and left with our hearts full of joy.

So, to anyone who has never ventured beyond their homeland, I say this: let go of your hesitations and fears and embark on a journey to a distant land. You may just find that the world is a vast and beautiful place, waiting to be explored. Embrace the kindness and friendliness you’ll encounter and savor every moment. And when life throws you a curveball, remember to make the best of it because, in the end, it’s the unplanned adventures that often become the most treasured memories.

I can’t wait to share more unforgettable experiences with travelers who are ready to explore the world, one incredible destination at a time.