Located in central Italy, Tuscany represents a rich aspect of Italian culture.
With rolling green landscapes, world-famous wines, and a vast Renaissance history, travelers should definitely tour through this beautiful and diverse region of Italy.
Luckily for me, my job allows me to travel through Europe, and I had the opportunity to visit Tuscany this past weekend while working as a tour guide. Smart Trip has a day trip called “Rome to Spa, Wine, and Tuscan Countryside”, and I had the pleasure of leading 14 students through these three enjoyable activities.
First, we embarked on a scenic bus ride from Rome, with views rivaling that of a painting. Small villages, farms, and vineyards dotted the seemingly endless green hills as the early morning mist hovered over distant mountains. After about two hours we arrived at our first stop, Terme Antica Querciolaia.
Set in Rapolano Terme, this spa is popular among local Italians who like to soak in the warm, therapeutic waters of the seven natural pools. Full of minerals, the turquoise water has healing properties that nourish and revive the skin, though you have to get used to the smell of natural sulfur emanating from the pools. It was quite cold when we attended, but there was something surreal about watching the thick steam spill from the bright blue water into the frigid January air.
Our next stop was a vineyard in Monte San Savino, where locals Francesca and Giuliano gave us a tour of the stunning grounds. After learning about the land, the grapes, and the wine-making process, we sat down at Vini Di Toscana Winery for lunch.
Lunch at the winery was as Italian as it gets. We drank generous samples of sparkling white wine, Chianti wine, and Fragolino dessert wine. After two servings of fresh pasta with simple, homemade tomato sauce, we snacked on bread with olive oil, pecorino cheese with truffle balsamic, juicy tomatoes, and crackers with olive tapenade. Francesca and Giuliano ensured that we all felt stuffed, happy, and enlightened about Tuscany’s original food and wine products when we left.
The bus carried us up steep, winding roads to our last stop on the day tour, Cortona. This small hilltop village is located in the Arezzo province of Tuscany, and is full of narrow alleyways perfect for getting lost. After exploring the adorable cafes, antique shops, and art galleries adorned with flowerpots and artwork, we ventured outside the stone walls that line the town. The second we stepped beyond these barriers, which date back to Roman times, we gazed at a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.
Though it was only one day, I caught a glimpse of Tuscany’s charm in multiple ways. I relaxed alongside locals in steaming thermal waters, watching the world go by without a care in the world. I indulged in fine Tuscan wines and ate so much of the simplest, freshest, classic Italian foods. I walked the quiet cobblestone streets of a town with humble, hidden beauty and immense history. I fell into my bed that night exhausted, but glowing with happiness.