Wine Talk

Snooth User: JonDerry

Trip to Italy

Posted by JonDerry, Aug 10, 2011.

I'll be in Italy in a little over a week, and i'm just starting to plan logistics for the few days i'll have over there.  I will be on a cruise, so the ports are Naples, Florence/Pisa, and Rome.  Would be most interested in seeing Tuscany here on my first trip to Italy, but i'm also concerned that from Florence/Pisa, I could be spending up to around 3 hours on the road to get to Montalcino and back. 

Any recommendations here?  Am I biting off more than I can chew with a day trip to Montalcino from Florence/Pisa?  Any good wine regions to visit in close proximity to Naples?

 

Replies

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 10, 2011.

Hi Jon,

Pisa and Florence are in Chianti country. Ther really are some great producers of Chianti that you might consider visiting. I would suggest you take a look around your route first before taking the trip down to Montalcino, was is a fabuous place but will eat up some of your day and it doesn't really sound like you have too much time to waste.

Greve in Chianti is about 30 minutes from Florence and in addition to be home to many great wineries also houses a great wine bar where you can sample dozens of local wines, out of 100plus on offer, at your own pace with their enomatic dispensing machines. You buy a card with credit on it and simply go from machine to machine buying samples of each.

Naples I am less familiar with, there's a lot of urban sprawl thee so getting into the country can take some time. If you want to travel an hour to the east you can go to Avellino, home to the Feudi di San Gregorio and Mastroberardino, two wineries certainly worth visiting.

Are we on the right path with those kinds of ideas?

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 10, 2011.

Absolutely Greg, thanks for the recommendation.  Didn't know Tuscany was so spread out. I'll plan on seeing Chianti afterall, and this way I might be able to see a little bit more of Florence also. Do you think it would be easy to get a train to Greve, or is renting a car the better way to go?

 

 

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Reply by madmanny, Aug 10, 2011.

If it's your first trip, enjoy Florence.  If you're trying to avoid the larger cities, consider seeing the towers of San Gimignano, going there directly from the Pisa.  If you're driving at all, bring your GPS and make sure it works in Italy.  Enjoy.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Aug 11, 2011.

Seconded the comments on the GPS. It saved me a lot of time, even when it lost track of the Tuscan countryside and I had to backtrack.

Enjoy your trip! I loved Florence as well -- the best thing about traveling to Italy is that you can't make a bad decision. After all, you'll be in Italy.

On second thought, my sister had a less positive experience because she tried to stay outside of Rome, which put her on public transportation for more hours than she would have been staying downtown and dulled the experience. So maybe one thought would be to try to minimize travel time.

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Reply by hhotdog, Aug 13, 2011.

few days....oh my!!!  it will be sooo great there that you will be back!  florence is beatiful...just beatiful.  rome takes 2 days at least?   the vatican is a day-ish?  if you get confused and lost for a bit GELOTO!!  should be good weather for it. so, don't bum out with the short time...you will sooo be going back!  chianti is where you need to go.  not too far and uh, wine everywhere!!gotta say drinking wine in a regular glass and just lovin italy....wow i'm just a bit jealous...ok , a lot jealous!  i just know you are gonna love it!   have a great time!

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Reply by samberjam, Aug 13, 2011.

Just went on a crusie to Italy and stopped in Tuscany.  We visited Fattoria IL POGGIO in Montecarlo.  We ate lunch and tasted all the different wines they sell.  It was a wonderful meal and the wines were terrific, and wonderful hospitality.  Have a great time!

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Reply by Peppino, Aug 13, 2011.

I've been to Feudi di San Gregorio.  It's worth a trip if you have time but as Greg mentioned it's about an hour inland.  It's a pretty modern winery with a Japanese garden lcoated in the hills of Avellino not far from Mastro, so maybe you can kill 2 birds with one stone. I believe the restaurant received 1 Michelin star.  I tasted some excellent local cheeses there.  I think there are some others near Pompei and south of the Alamfi coast near Salerno.  Marisa Cuomo is one.  I would call or email them first since it's August.  I'd post a pic or 2 if I wasn't so technologically challenged!

 

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Reply by Peppino, Aug 13, 2011.

Forgot to mention, my profile pic was taken at Feudi.

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 14, 2011.

I thought I had previously responded, but I guess not.

You will absolutely need a car. Driving into and out of Florence can be difficult so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

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Reply by hpartain, Aug 15, 2011.

Jon, if you haven't already left for your Med cruise.  Florence/Pisa is not your port of call. More likely Livorno. It is at least 1.5 or 2 hours to Florence on the autostrade. Forget driving there. Take the shore excursion that drops you off in the city and enjoy on your own. Plenty to walk around and do including the fantastic San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale. Or save Florence for a real trip to the heart of Tuscany. The city of Pisa is good for the Duomo and Tower, but go to Lucca for a more enjoyable (and closer) walking experience. Or as samberjam suggested, visit one of the wineries around Lucca. The Montecarlo and Colline Luchessi wines seldom make it to USA. I've driven this area many times. Don't consider driving as a day off-ship excursion. Get a driver-guide if exploring on your own.

Likewise, Civitevecchia is your actual port for Rome. It too is an hour to 1.5 hrs away. Do Rome... at least an introduction as you need several weeks to explore all of it!   If you are interested in wines of Italy do this on your next trip. Not as shore excursions, please! There is sooo much available.     

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 15, 2011.

Thanks for chiming in everyone, i'm taking off tomorrow so all the plans are starting to come together. What's interesting is that we'll have a 6 hour layover in Amsterdam from early Wednesday morning to the afternoon, would like to walk around but not sure what kind of complications to plan for.

Shortly thereafter, we'll be in Barcelona for 2-3 days before the cruise.  From there, a couple stops in France; Nice and Toulon.  We'll see Nice, but plan to go to Cassis from Toulon.  For the Italian Ports, Livorno will be first and hpartain you are correct the more we look at it the more difficult it's going to be to get into Tuscany, but it still may be worth seeing Chianti if we can fit it in.  Otherwise, i'll be content with finding a good cafe and wine bar in Florence.

In Rome, the only plan is to see the Vatican museums and walk around, while finally from Naples we've signed up for a 10 hour excursion covering Capri, Sorrento, and Pompei. 

Hopefully, I have some good reports for you guys in general, and of course hopefully some great new wines will be discovered.

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 22, 2011.

Assume this may be too late, but you should go outside Nice as well as that town, especially for the wines all down the coast in the Spain direction. If time is limited, find a good outdoor restaurant or two and taste your way through their wine list.

Lots of good advice about Tuscany and Rome above. Regarding Naples, Greg's reccs are enough wine. The Amalfitano coast to the south is so shockingly beautiful that's what you should focus on this time around, even if parts of it are packed out with tourists (more European than N. American). Hire a car with driver to take you up to Ravello. Have dinner in Amalfi. Pizza on the beach at Positano, etc. You won't be disappointed. Or take a cooking class in Sorrento. Etc. Way too much to do this time around so pick selectively, and focus less on winery visits and more on the people and food and wine at table, and scenery....

 

 

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Reply by hhotdog, Aug 23, 2011.

...still little jealous!  hope you just have the best time, safe and fun.  the wine, the culture and beatiful old world europe.  wow, will be living it through your words when you get back to us! salute!

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Reply by JonDerry, Aug 23, 2011.

Well, after Barcelona, I now have Cassis, Nice, and Monaco under my belt, w/ Pisa and Florence concluded today.  Really enjoyed my time in the South of France.  Some great food, very good house wines, and I bought some interesting stuff for the return home.  A white and red from Cassis, a Mag of some 2009 St. Emillion for 22 euro that I couldn't pass up in Nice, and also a Beaumes de Venice for 11. Should be some fun and low risk wines to try out, buying off region/vintage and price only.

Of course, Pisa is one of the most touristy places in the world, if not the best example of a tourist trap, but I appreciated seeing the four structures there in once place, including the leaning tower. It's an impressive visual, even though there isn't a town or anything else.

Florence didn't live up to my expectations somehow, probably because I had been already blown away with the South of France.  Still, a rather stimulating city, and definitely one I could use more time to explore. At first blush, i'd put it in a similar class as Budapest though maybe not quite as expansive. 

Have definitely learned to focus less on winery, and more on the food, people, and wines at the table.  That's pretty much been the deal.  Wish I had more time in regards to Sorrento, and other protocols but it looks like Rome and Capri is all that's left.  We cut out of the Sorrento and Pompei part of the trip, just trying to focus on one place rather than spread ourselves too thing.

Cheers, and thanks for all the well wishes all.

-JD

 

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 23, 2011.

Too bad about Florence. I still like the town very much (way more than Buda or Pest, though I like them), but that may be because I know quite a few people there or from there and have been introduced to a more local scene than some. Plus I guess I like the Italian lifestyle a little more than the Hungarian.

Capri can be fun, but it also is touristed out, especially in August. Beautiful scenery, though, without a doubt. Diving around its edges in blueholes, etc. is also good.

Glad to hear you enjoyed the south of France. Will look forward to more stories....

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 24, 2011.

Hey, slow down there big fella.

While my father is from Trento, my mother is from Pest, so let's not be bad-mouthing the motherland.

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Reply by dmcker, Aug 24, 2011.

All I'm saying is I like Florence better than Pest. I did say I like Pest, too.  ;-) 

Enjoyed the social life in both, but find the lifestyle within and in the countryside around the Italian city more reproducibly entertaining.

And I do like the range of Italian wines on hand there better than the range of Hungarian wine I had in Budapest and environs, though some of them were more than fine.

Or am I taking you too literally, Greg? Good one on the Jaeger machines for the Chinese in the other thread....

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 24, 2011.

"Or am I taking you too literally, Greg?"

Could beeee...
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Reply by dmcker, Aug 24, 2011.

Hey, I know I use emoticons too much, but that's because mailing/texting/posting is too flat/unidimensional. But you did notice the wink I hope... ;-)


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