I think my taste buds are still tingling. I experienced some of the most amazing food yet and at what better place than a castle. With a field trip to Castello di Verrazzano around 40 minutes away from Florence nuzzled into the hills of Tuscany and the center of Chianti, I once again fell madly in love. All that is left of the castle is one tower but the home still hundreds of years old was absolutely breath taking. It’s a wine castle where we went on a tour of how they make their famous and incredible wine. Barrels on barrels of wine surrounded us, including private collections dating back to the 1600s and earlier. Then came the food and wine tasting. We learned the professional way and experienced the Rosé, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Reserva, Verrazzano RED, and more. First tasted but then drank with the accompanied course. I want to forever remember the flavors that danced inside my mouth. We began with bread coated in the castle’s olive oil, salami, and the most delicious prosciutto (made from the wild boar they raise) served with the Rosé. Experiencing the different textures, softness, and flavors all I could do was close my eyes and smile. Next course was pasta. Penne at the most perfect al dente draped in tomato sauce and fresh leaves of basil held the option of adding this combination of herbs and spices and parmesan. The garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and more complemented the pasta perfectly and then the Chianti Classico brought it all to life with just one coating across the palate. Next course included fresh lettuce drizzled in olive oil, roasted potatoes with rosemary, Tuscan white beans, and stracotto al Chianti Classico (pot roast with a wine sauce) accompanied by the reserved wine. This wine had a smokiness and richness that I actually preferred by itself more than with the food. Still all scrumptious. The last course was by far my favorite. I think I could have died happy after. It was their balsamic and pecorino cheese. First they put the balsamic in this small spoon and you were to take the whole spoonful at once and let the flavor burst within, following with a bite of the cheese. I think I could have possibly downed the whole bottle. The sweet yet bitter, perfectly dense balsamic almost brought tears to my eyes. Milva is still trying to convince me to stay the whole year. All in all it was the perfect castle experience and if I were to ever be a princess, Castello di Verrazzano would be my ideal home.
After pure exhaustion of food and wine, I took a quick power nap and spur of the moment decided to head north on a hike with a new friend. We had no idea where we were going, only that we wanted to go up and hopefully see the sunset over Firenze. I think we walked up a hill that was at least a mile long. Stone walls olive groves surrounded us as we kept exploring and trekking along. Passing city limits, we finally found a clearing and sat on wall overlooking mountains, olive groves, and Florence at dusk and into the night as the lights started to appear. It was beautiful and only fueled my urge to explore more. Throughout the random journey we entered into what felt like true Italy where families and no tourists were around. And it was quiet. So quiet. It’s comforting to know there is an escape to the hustle and bustle and tourism that almost seems overwhelming at time. It was a freeing adventure and brought some ease to mind. I think we walked over 6 miles in all but the exercise felt amazing. As much as I eat, I walk an enormous amount and living on the fourth floor my legs are going to be stellar when I get back…I hope. Exhaustion has officially set in and with that ciao!