Tuscany, Italy

When I Went: September 12-16, 2012

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? Although the temperature drops at night, during the day the temperature is perfect, not too warm and not too cold. Also, most of the kids go back to school by September, so the amount of tourism decreases significantly compared to the summer months.

Why I Went There: Gelatarias, thin-crust pizzas, truffles, prosciutto platters, Chianti vino, creamy burrata and pasta carbonara — those are a few reasons why I have made Tuscany my home away from home. During a recent five-day trip to Tuscany, I discovered the most enchanting off-the-beaten-path hotels and spectacular restaurants to add to my Italian repertoire. Therefore if you happen to be traveling to Italy any time soon, get ready for the recommendation of a lifetime.  (Keep in mind that I changed hotels every day, in order to visit as many properties as possible. I suggest staying in each hotel 2 to 3 days.)

Who Went With Me? My fiancé

We Stayed Here: Villa la Massa in the outskirts of Florence, Il Salviatino in the outskirts of Florence, Villa San Michele in Fiesole, and Grand Hotel Continental in Siena.

You Won’t Want to Miss: Wine tasting in the Chianti region and dining at little off-the-beaten-path trattorias (recommended below).

Eat Here: Dinner at Il Santo Bevitore for a modern Italian experience. This was the second-best meal in Florence by far. Book a few weeks ahead! The best meal in Florence was at La Giostra. This rustic Italian ristorante might look like a tacky celebrity-photos-hanging-in-the-wall kind of place, but before you judge it order the stuffed ravioli with pecorino romano cheese and pear. Pair it with a glass of Brunello di Montalcino, and you will be in heaven. I still crave it to this day.

Play Here: Cooking class at Villa San Michele. The lessons are all “hands-on,” and at the end of the two-hour class you get to enjoy your creations.  Take a wine tour to the Chianti Classico wine region. The hotel can organize a private tasting.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? Dallas to Rome via a direct flight on American Airlines. Then we took the fast speed Italiarail to Florence. The total train ride is 1 and 1/2 hours.

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