Florence, Italy was the first destination of the 2015 Sonja's Boutique Trip. We arrived in Florence early on Saturday evening. Our driver was waiting for us and took us to our home away from home for our next couple of days.
After a long day and half of travel we decided to pick up some fresh bread, salami, prosciutto, cheese and of course some Italian wine at the local neighborhood grocery and call that dinner. Now mind you, this neighborhood grocery is not your Giant Eagle or Kroger Superstore, this is a neighborhood market. This little market kept winding back into the building and with every turn a new discovery. We awoke the next morning to rain so the raincoats came out and off we went to the Mercato Centrale. This market is similar to the West Side Market in Cleveland and is located in a building dating from 1874. The bottom floor is full of produce, fruit, meat, etc. stands while the top floor is full of different types of food stands.
We enjoyed having espresso and many different types of food for brunch and by the time we had finished so had the rain so off we went to start walking and exploring. There is so much to see and do in Florence so depending on the amount of time you have there categorize your must see list. There is the Accademia Gallery, the Duomo, Piazza Michelangelo (Fantastic view of the city of Florence), Piazza della Signoria (to see the copy of Michelangelo's David), Uffizi Gallery, the Boboli Gardens, Piazza del Duomo, food tours, wine tours and so much more.......which is why you need to prioritize.
We did a fabulous walking food tour where we tasted many different olive oils, balsamic vinegar, cheese, wine, gelato, sandwiches, etc. The tour lasted for 4 hours so needless to say we were quote full. After a bit of a rest in the afternoon we headed to Piazza Michelangelo for the climb to the top for sunset and a view of the city at sunset. It was quite a hike but well worth it! We finished off the evening with a dinner of pasta and a Florentine steak. The next morning we departed for a tour into the Tuscan countryside visiting the towns of Sienna, Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. In Montalcino we toured a small family owned winery and did a tasting of their Brunello wine.
In the Montalcino area there are over 200 wineries producing Brunello wine and the one we toured had recently been chosen as one of the top 10 producers and received awards in Milan and NYC. We finished our tour in Montevarchi where we were picked up for the next part of our trip......our Italian cooking school!