If you are looking for the perfect wine tourism holiday, Tuscany is it.
Florence in Tuscany is a beautiful Renaissance city, on the river Arno, with historical monuments and museums along with cool shopping, bars and restaurants.
Florence is also close to some of the most important Tuscan wine regions: Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
There is a well established wine route called The Black Rooster Roads (Le Strade del Gallo Nero) running through Chianti Classico region. A few recommendations are Castello Banfi with an excellent casual restaurant, the family-oriented Villa Dievole with atmospheric wine cellars and the beautiful private estate Capannelle, perfect for small groups, with superb wines and a homely open kitchen.
The hilltop town of Montalcino is famous for its Brunello wines, made from 100% Sangiovese. There are some luxurious wine estates to visit for those with a big budget or for high end corporate entertaining. Recommendations include: a member of the Ferragamo family-owned Castiglion del Bosco where the female winemaker oversees elegant, stylish wines.
Further inland in Arezzo region, another member of the Ferragamo family owns the stunning Il Borro estate, an excellently restored village with very pretty houses and huge villas in traditional gardens, suitable for smart weddings.
Montepulciano is another pretty hilltop town on the must-see list. The wines and accommodation tend to be more affordable. Fattoria del Cerro is a friendly villa with rooms and relaxed dining, part of a small group of wine estates in Italy, owned by SAIAGRICOLA.
Another hilltop town not to be missed is the busy San Gimignano, always packed at the weekends with Italian families. The local white wine Vernacchia di San Gimignano is delicious with antipasti. Two top producers are Montenidoli and Tenuta le Calcinaie.
Florence is very accessibile by plane and the airport is just 10 minutes from the city centre. London City Airport flies direct to Florence.
An inexpensive Florence hotel recommendation is the charming family house Ghiberti in excellent central location.
For organized tours in Tuscany, see specialist operator Fufluns.
(photo –Kampoll / Flickr Creative Commons)