As you may have read in other posts I love visiting Italy. Myself and my husband have been to a few places as a couple and will keep going for as long as we can. There is always a new place for us to explore, different places to eat and for me plenty of photos to take. Amongst our favourite places Bagno Vignoni is towards the top of the list. This has become one of my favourite places as the whole area was incredibly tranquil. From the car park walking down we were immediately immersed and feel surrounded by nature. Even though on our second visit two years later we saw the building works that were going on it didn’t impact our surroundings.
In the middle of Bagno Vignoni sits the previously used natural spa baths it was restaurants, shops, a hotel and a modern spa. A short walk outside of the square showed the history of the mills, the waterways and how they were used to sustain the town years before. On our honeymoon we stopped for a coffee on our first visit and a light lunch on our second as I wanted to return before we left. Our second trip to Italy a few years later we visited again. It looked like they were putting more money into the area, adding another building and this time, looking down from the old waterways, people were below in the water themselves. The shops around the bath sold handmade pieces, decorations and homewares from the local areas and it was good to see that they had kept it authentic and true to style.
Next time we visit Tuscany I have no doubt we would go to the baths again, maybe even taking a dip ourselves. I would also like to plan ahead during another trip and try their spa facilities as well as hopefully be able to treat both of us to a massage. I love going to a spa so doing so in such a stunning place would be a great experience.
If you haven’t had enough of Italy try my Montalcino Travel Diaries or read about our trip to Venice. .
Having been to Tuscany twice now, once on our honeymoon and once with family, we have managed to visit Montepulciano multiple times. One our first visit we went back two or three times before we even realised that there was a whole other part of town we hadn’t yet explored. During our second holiday to the area we were slightly more seasoned and were ready with more of what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go.
One of our favourite spots in Montepulciano is the balcony of Caffe Poliziano. Walking through the cafe restaurant you can sit at the back looking over the fields enjoying a drink and some dessert treats. They have a large glass cabinet of mini desserts and patisserie treats that at the time cost between 1 – 4 euro each. It is a relaxing spot with a luxury feel and we will no doubt be going on our trip to the town.
My next spot again includes food funnily enough. This time in the form of a picnic. Hiring a car on our honeymoon meant we were able to go just outside of Montepulciano to a farm shop where you could pick a basket of meats, cheese, bread and wine and sit outside. This is up there as one of my favourite experiences from our honeymoon as it was just relaxed, easy and had beautiful views.
Another experience we got to do on our second visit to Tuscany was wine tasting. Down in the cellars at Cantina Fattoria della Talosa we got to see the barrels of wine and hear what made each wine different to the next. We also got to hear about the history of the site which was said to be the oldest in the area to include a visit to the caves and of course taste the local wine and eat the meats and cheeses alongside it. It was here I decided to bring a bottle home for my parents as a ‘thanks for looking after the dog’ gift.
Anytime we go to Tuscany now we will always visit Montepulciano and my husband says the town is one of his favourites, as with most places in Italy the food anywhere we go is amazing and here is no different. Pizza, pasta, bread and wine is all I ask for in any restaurant so I’m always happy in Italy.
If you havent already check out my other Italian Travel Diaries posts and see more of Montalcino and Venice.
Ahh Tuscany, take me back there. After much deliberation we chose Tuscany for our honeymoon and were able to return since that visit almost three years ago. As we have hired a car on each of our trips we were in a great position to do a little touring and see some local (and not so local) sights. I thought I would put together three of my favourite destinations in Tuscany to go alongside my Italian Travel Diaries so here they are.
1. Bagno Vignoni. A beautiful area containing thermal baths, history and how the baths were used back in their day and restaurants and shops to go with it. The place is full of natural beauty and we’ve visited on three separate occasions now as the setting is so tranquil I know no place like it in the UK. To see more visit my post from our Tuscan trip.
2. Montalcino. This was one of the quieter towns we visited whilst staying in Tuscany and that might just add to why it has made the list. Offering the same in quality of food and attractions as some of the other towns but being less busy leads me to want to visit again. On our last trip with family we went here a few times for different meals and I would love to explore more of the area in the future. Visiting the stunning restaurant Franci and getting a view of the castle is something I hope to remember. I have added Montalcino to one of my favourite places in Italy for its serenity and the fact that it had a less ‘touristy’ vibe.
3. Florence. Ok so we’ve gone from two of the quieter destinations to probably the busiest. We spent two nights in Florence when we visited and it is one of my favourite cities, and I’m not a city girl at all. The architecture is something else and sitting on the open rooftop bars looking over to everything is an experience I want to do in every place I go to. Being a city it had everything you could have wanted in terms of gorgeous places to eat, retail therapy and spots to simply take in the atmosphere and to me it never felt over busy. We went in the peak of summertime (it was boiling) and there was still space to walk a round freely.
On our last holiday to Italy we visited the Tuscan town of Montalcino. Having never been before we didn’t know what to expect but were definitely pleased and went back a few times during our stay. We saw a different view of Montalcino on each visit and the town was bigger than we originally thought.
I shall start with the most memorable experience of Montalcino and arguably the best food of our whole week, and believe me when I say we ate well! It was my father-in-law that booked us into Franci, a restaurant with a ‘pleasure room’, ie. a wine room that is very cool. I chose scallops to start and risotto for mains finishing of course with dessert and it was all faultless.
Franci looked over to the castle which was good to have a little browse around. It held a bar and shop and you could walk around the top of the castle if you wanted to go up.
We are pretty relaxed when on holiday (which I’m sure is the goal) and just enjoy having a mooch around the shops, walking along the streets looking at shop windows and checking out the restaurants. Montalcino had some great little shops, my favourite probably being the lavender store because I’m simply obsessed with it.
After a few visits to Montalcino we said we would go again and there is no doubt we would see something different. I already can’t wait.
If you want to read more Italian Travel Diaries check out my Venice and Honeymoon posts and have a good ol’ catch up.
It feels like such a long time ago we were relaxing on the sunny hills of Tuscany but it was only a few months ago. Thinking about it reminds me of our second visit to Italy which was our honeymoon. It took us so long to decide where we wanted to go but we finally booked our trip away and decided to discover different parts of Tuscany.
We arranged three destinations for our honeymoon and had been given recommendations of where to stay and what to visit. After arriving our first stay in Tuscany was La Foce. La Foce is a beautiful estate spread out over yellow fields with a history of being dilapidated until a couple bought it to renovate. This is to us exactly how we imagined Tuscany to be when we booked our stay. In front of the house ran fields and trees for miles giving it a relaxed feel, perfect as we wanted this holiday to be exactly that. The house came with a pool and although I didn’t get in once Mr L took a swim plenty of times whereas I chose to sunbathe and read instead. The rooms were lovely, well serviced and comfortable. Modern and clean but with a cosy barn twist. I looked forward to breakfast everyday as it was freshly prepared meats and cheeses, fruits, yoghurt and toast and best of all fresh coffee.
From La Foce we could easily get to the town of Montepulciano which we visited a few times. It was on the outskirts of Montepulciano that my husband found us the best place for a picnic. It was a farm shop where you could pick a basket to fill with meats, cheeses and wine and sit outside overlooking Tuscany. We visited the farm shop twice and even managed to bring some jams home.
Having visited Venice and Verona previously we knew what to expect in terms of food. Throughout the whole honeymoon we ate an incredible amount of pizza and decided to change it up one evening when we ate out at an Osteria at the top of Montepulciano. It was one of our favourite restaurants of the honeymoon and we would definitely go again. The dinner was a set menu to include 4 courses and wine and if they did such an option like that closer to home I would be there all the time.
Another place we managed to visit that came on recommendation was Bagno Vignoni. This was another of my favourite places as it was so incredibly tranquil. In the middle sat the previously used natural spa baths and surrounding it was restaurants, shops, a hotel and a modern spa. A short walk outside of the square showed the history of the mills, the waterways and how they were used to sustain the town years before. We stopped for a coffee on our first visit and a light lunch on our second as I wanted to return before we left. The shops around the bath sold handmade pieces, decorations and homewares from the local areas and it was good to see that they had kept it authentic and true to style.
That’s right, we love Italy. After visiting a few times we would still go back probably yearly to see different cities. We had heard mixed reviews about Venice with some people saying it had a whiff from the canals and some reporting how busy and expensive it was. We of course needed to find out for ourselves and so booked our stay.
It was my husband that had booked our room at Ai Mori d’Oriente and on arrival it was a beautiful, luxurious hotel. We were very happy to find out we had been given a room upgrade ending up in a two storey apartment style room. Little extras such as pillow sweets, weather reports and bottles of water on the bedside made finishing touches that little extra thoughtful for me. The bed was huge and the whole hotel vibe was lush, decorated with rich greens, reds and golds throughout. It was slightly out of the main hub of the city and about 15 minutes walk back from the centre and I would definitely stay here again.
The city of Venice has so much to offer from historical sites, backstreet restaurants and of course the beautiful canals. There is definitely a buzz during the day which was perhaps a bit busy for me but I can hardly complain as it was the peak of the summer holidays. St Marks Square was the busiest and most touristy area we visited and we didn’t stay for long, I would say about 10 minutes just to see it. We had also been told it was the most expensive for food and drink so we didn’t want to get caught up in that. Also, if I were wanting a gondola ride I would perhaps go back a few streets and off of the main stretch to get some better deals with less waiting time.
The food in Venice was definitely beat my estimations. Our favourite meal of the whole holiday was in Verona. We had the special Amerone Risotto and Amerone wine, both recommended to us and an antipasti of duck. Of course there was dessert this being chocolate and peaches. Gorgeous in taste just couldn’t be finished after such good portion sizes! For our other main meals we found restaurants a few streets back from the touristy areas where they were both delicious and slightly cheaper. Pizza was a main choice for Mr LB and different kinds of pasta for myself.
Travel in and around Venice is mainly done on foot. This wasn’t an issue for us at all as the city isn’t huge. The only thing I will remember next time is to take luggage with wheels as I had taken a vintage suitcase and those things are heavy. Venetian streets are narrow and we didn’t find it too far in between locations of what we wanted to see and where we went. Gondolas are also available but these seem to be used mainly as a tourist attraction with the locals using their own boats as personal transport. We got the train to Verona which was very easy (you just have to get the fast train rather than the slow one!) and the bus was available for airport transfers.
There’s no doubt we had a great holiday and would go again. Next time we’ve both agreed to stay in Verona as the sights are equally beautiful but it is a fair bit quieter and a little less touristy. The busiest place in Verona was Juliet’s balcony with a lot of people in a small space. Oh and being a Brit the final thing I have to say is the weather in Italy was absolutely gorgeous!