Buongiorno from Italy

Buongiorno from Italy

By Gina Kiriakopoulos, senior travel agent

Buongiorno signoras e signores,

I recently returned but have not recovered from the Chianti Walking and Wine tour with Exodus.

The trip was absolutely fantastic, from start to finish! It also helped that I had an amazing group of people and we never laughed or drank or ate that much ever!

I went a few days earlier to Rome. Spectacular! I had not been in years since I was on a Contiki trip and who remembers sights on those tours?

We stayed in a trendy area called Trastevere. It was beautiful with its windy, cobblestone roads with tons of bars and restaurants. It was walking distance to all the sights – depending on how much you like to walk.  One day we did about 13 miles but recovered with lots of pasta, wine and gelato.

I did a walking food tour in the area of Prati and it was the best food tour ever!  We went to the best pizza place in Rome, had the best cheese, prosciutto, truffles and then went for dinner for pasta and then gelato. All this and 5 bottles of wine between 4 people. 

We learned the difference between real gelato and not so real gelato.  It’s like the saying: if it looks to good to be true….so if you have gelato piled up like a mountain it’s FAKE. This tour was the best money I have ever spent!

The line ups in Rome were ridiculous. Make sure to book “skip the line” tickets ahead of time.

We took the train from Rome to Florence where we were picked up for the tour. We stayed in Castellina at a refurbished farmhouse, Villa Casalta.  Beautiful scenery and had a nice pool, although not pool weather. Everyday you woke up and had to make sure you were still not dreaming.

We had 5 walks on the trip from 8 km to 12 kms. They were not very difficult, but you must be relatively fit.  We visited the medieval town of Greve and the hilltop village of Montefioralle where we also had a wine tasting.

Radda in Chianti was beautiful where we walked through woodlands, wineries and ended up at a winery famous for the Chianti classico wine. I can go on about all the amazing little towns we went to: Siena, San Gimignano and finally Florence. We visited a few wineries and also a wine school where my friend Sheila and I sat in the front and got in trouble. I had flashbacks of being in school again! The teacher was not impressed. Maybe it was because we drank everyone’s wine that didn’t like it..lol.

I will never forget being in the van, driving through Tuscany and on comes the song, the prayer by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. I had tears running down my face as it was a reminder of how incredibly blessed I was to be there.

Breakfast was included everyday and consisted of fresh croissants, some fresh fruit, cereal, and boiled eggs. Lunches were on your own and we had 5 dinners. Three dinners were at the farmhouse and there was supposed to be 3 litres of wine for 11 of us, however that usually ended up being 6 or 7. They had beer and bottles of wine for sale at the farmhouse as well.

Dinners were great and they were very accommodating to people’s allergies and dietary restrictions. Having said that, someone had severe gluten allergies that has to use a special shampoo. She ate bread and pasta the whole time with NO REACTION! You can imagine how much she ate for the first time in years! The other was lactose intolerant and ate cheese and gelato everyday.  I had quite a bit of wine and had not one headache! I came home with a fresh bottle of Advil!

We had one free day and you had the option of sitting by the pool, renting a bike, vespa or going to another town.  I chose to do the cooking class. We made bruschetta, fresh pasta and tomato sauce and the best tiramasu I ever had…accompanied by yup, more wine.  It was 95.00 euro each and worth every penny.

Exodus is a great company with so many itineraries around the world, whether you’re interested in walking, culture or cycling. I have been to many places in the world and this definitely goes in my top ten. I miss the food, the walks, the scenery, the laughs and of course the wine.

Call Gina to book your next vacation at 1-800-665-4981 ext 7289.

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