Highlights from Week Three: Cinque Terre, Chianti & Siena

Week_three_tripsWhy go to just one new place when you can go to…say…three? Our thoughts exactly. This week, instead of going to one city, we went to three very different locations: Cinque Terre, Chianti (Montefioralle), and Siena. Essentially, in one weekend we saw the Italian coast, the Tuscan countryside, and one of Italy’s most beloved hill towns. What else could one ask for?! Oh, right. We also ate…like queens. Would you expect anything less? I thought not. Onto the pictures!

Cinque Terre
Monterosso_vernazzaCinque_terre_italThis amazing thing happens when you’re in Cinque Terre. The sun and sky and happiness transform you. The wind blows your hair in just the right way, the sunlight reflects in your sunglasses just so, and suddenly, you look like a movie star. For proof, see photo immediately below. Please note the photo on left was taken before Cinque Terre, whereas photo on right was taken after Cinque Terre (tee hee hee). The difference is striking, I know. For further proof please see celebrity-laden photo below. It really is remarkable!transformationvernazzaWhile in Cinque Terre you also become instantly buff and decide to take a killer 2-hour hike which you magically knock out in 1 hour. I mean, there just must be something in the water…Cinque_terre_hikeCheck out the view as we turn the corner at the end of our hike. Notice that Chelsea is conveniently wearing neon (we’ve asked her to do this whenever we travel…see below for more examples) so she is easy to spot. Thanks Chelsea!monterosso_viewAfter swimming and hiking, we were ready to eat. First things first, we hit up a local store that does the most amazing tastings of every imaginable dip, spread, and sauce made from every imaginable delicious, fresh and local thing. As you can see in the below photo, we hated it.cinque_terre_tastingtasting_monterossoHowever, that was just the opening act to that night’s dinner: fish pizza, frutti di mare pasta, and fresh pesto. In Cinque Terre si mangia bene. Translation: the food was Amaaaaaaazzzzinnngg. cinqueterre_foodpesto_pastaFinally, and most regrettably, it was time to go home. montrosso_night
Greve_marketWe started our day trip to Chianti with a stop at a local market in the town of Greve in Chianti. After which we headed into the hills where we were magically transported to another planet known as Montefioralle. Ok, it’s not another planet, but it feels like it is. I mean, seriously. How is this a real place?!montefioralleWhen we arrived for our wine tasting, our trusty guide, Fernando, was waiting. He told us all about his Chianti Classico, grapes, tannins, barrels, and how to determine which wine your palate likes. For example, my palate likes 2009, whereas Carrie’s likes 2007. If there was only such a thing as adopt-a-grandpa…FerdinandoWe tried 7 different wines, including three Chianti Classicos, two bottles of Reserva, a Super Tuscan, and a sweet dessert wine (Vin Santo) that was served with Fernando’s wife’s homemade apricot torta. By the end, we were all wine pros. Case in point: Chelsea’s killer and very classy glass holding technique. I honestly don’t remember him teaching us that, must just be a natural gift…wine_tastingwine_tasting_1Chinati_smilesHere, in a visual summary, is what we learned.wine_chianti
Last but not least, the picturesque hill town of Siena, Florence’s long time rival for hills, horse races, and almond cookies! We started off at the Palazzo Pubblico, the city’s Government building, then we made our way to the Cathedral, and finished with some shopping and, you guessed it, eating. Oh sad. More delicious food. Luckily, in a hill town, you burn it all off (note: depending on how much you consume, this may not be completely accurate). Palazzo_pubcathedral_talkingcathedral_sienaThen it was time to put Siena in our rear view and head back to Florence. Ciao Siena! rear_view_sienaStayed tuned for the final week!

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