The plan for this day was a trip to a wine rout and the change of our trip center to Rome.
The day started with us checking out of or Florence gorgeous hotel and driving to the wine route. Apparently we had a time of tour beginning but I was never told of this fact so drove there very leisurely and even made an error in turn on the way which took us on a slightly longer way.
We drove through several picturesque Tuscany villages and were amazed at the way and the location of Italian residencies. I made a mental note that a lengthy tour of Tuscany is extremely worth a repetition in the future.
After traveling on a windy narrow road with a leg through a forest at its end we arrived to this location.
The name Verrazzano was very familiar to me from traveling frequently to New Jersey and crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge every third week for about two years but at this point I though this was just a coincidence. Little did I know 🙂
We entered the site reception zone with a grape vine serving as the roof. It was extremely amazing!
Since apparently we were a bit late for the tour one of the employees walked us into the winery where the rest of the tour participants was already assembled. On the way he took us through the gardens around the winery.
I was overwhelmed by the amount of blue and green surrounding us! Then we joined the group and were welcomed by an extremely nice and knowledgeable tour guide.
During the tour the guide verified my earlier suspicion that the property indeed belonged to the Verrazzano family and was the actual birth place of Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1485. He was an Italian explorer who discovered many places in North America, surveying for King Francis I of France. He is renowned as the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and New Brunswick in 1524, including New York Bay and Narragansett Bay. I felt in awe not only because of the excellent and comprehensive wine tour but also because I felt I was standing in the presence of history (more about this on day 7).
The tour ended with sniffing the special aroma produced in the balsamic distillery where we could only insert our noses and sniff the special aroma. We were told that the distillation is so meticulous that 1 Kg of grape yields 1 ml of balsamic!!!
All the while I was thinking to myself – this is a strange wine route without tasting… but then we were asked to step into the dining hall where the tables were set for… tasting! (silly me 🙂 )
The tour guide reminded us of the various wines she told us about in the tour while filling up our glasses by the various types of wine, from the simplest to the most special…
From right to left- 1. Rose, made of grapes grown at the lowest area of the mountains where water is found in abundance and the grape absorbs lots of water. 2 an 3. Classic, made of at least 80% of grapes raised in Tuscany. At Verrazzano the wine is made with 95% Tuscany grapes which provides a deeper color to the wine. The wine varies based on the location of the grape growth along the slope as well as maturation time. 2 is the least mature and 3. the most mature, awarded with a black rooster. 4. Modern wine which is made by adding “modern” grapes (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon).
After getting an explanation on how a glass cup should be held and how to taste the wine we did tasting of the four wines (Karen and I didn’t drink as we were the designated drivers but the kids enjoyed it a lot 🙂 )
At the end of the tasting we were served with a platter full of local produce to tests some of the rural Italian cuisine.
For desert we were served with some dry biscuits which we were supposed to dip in Grappa and with some coffee. For the more discerning eaters, like Or, the coffee was “strengthened” by a drop of Grappa!
Eventually, after a long time, we realized we still have some more distance to cover today so we headed for the cars. On the way the kids decided to reprise their customary family shot. The first one was taken twenty something years ago, the second one was taken at our family vacation up north, last year and the last one in Tuscany 🙂
The car staffing for the ride to Rome was the non drinkers (Karen and I) as the drivers, Roni or and Jonny in Karen’s car and Lee riding with me.
The drive was uneventful with two pit stops (three for me as I had to refuel). At one of the pit stops Lee felt like sleeping and as she was helping me with navigation she asked Roni (best navigator in the family) to swap. Arriving to Rome Roni was helping me navigate through the convoluted mazes of Rome until we arrived at our hotel.
We arrived at the hotel which Karen excelled in booking. It was in the dead center of Rome in a walking distance from all popular attractions and located next to the obelisk and the Italian house of parliament.
Roni, Or and Jonny stayed at the hotel to check in and take care of our luggage while Karen, Lee and I went to drop off the rentals at the Avis agency a few minutes from the hotel.
After confirming a zero balance on the rental and catching a taxi back to the hotel we decided to walk around.
We walked to the glorious and mystery filled Pantheon building but everybody got disappointed by the Pantheon being closed for the day and decided they’d rather eat dinner 🙂
We selected a restaurant at random from the ample selection available. Our selection was biased by the Trip Adviser plaque presented at the establishment and the promise made by the hostess that – if you don’t like the food you don’t pay.
We ended up not liking the food and not liking the service but decided not to make a scene and depart amicably.
The Kids decided to continue touring Rome but Karen and I felt rather beat with all the days driving and decided to retire. Lee and Jonny did the same but Roni and Or decided to continue.