"Are you ready to get drunk?"

One of the things I was most looking forward to on this trip was doing a wine tasting in Tuscany. Why? Because I knew Tuscany was beautiful and I love wine. Erin and I searched around for different options, trying to stay within a reasonable budget, and eventually found one for $50 each. Definitely not cheap, but it was 7 hours long, had tasting at two different wineries, lots of little snacks, and a small stop in the village of Greve so it seemed like we would get our money’s worth. Plus it was one of the cheaper ones.
The tour didn’t depart until 1:15, so we slept in and grabbed a late breakfast. With time to kill, we thought it would be nice to walk around and see a bit of the city. We stumbled upon this weird statue outside Basilica di San Lorenzo with no plaque giving any kind of name or description.

There was also this lovely garden at the basilica.

To get inside the basilica was a €6, and we ultimately decided it wasn’t worth it. So we made our way to the Duomo. We plan on going inside the Duomo on Saturday, but the outside alone is beautiful and intricate enough to dedicate a separate trip to.

For “lunch” we grabbed gelato and soon it was departure time. We drove for 45 minutes into the Chianti region before arriving at our first winery, Tenuta del Palagio. Upon arrival the guide asked the bus "are you ready to get drunk?" and everyone laughed excitedly.

The first wine we tasted was a 2015 Viogner. It was good, but definitely not my favourite white that I've ever had - a bit harsh and nothing distinct about the flavour.

Up next we had three reds. The first two were Chianti Classico, meaning they meet certain standards including being blended with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes which are typical in the region. An authentic Chianti Classico has a black rooster seal. The two that we tried are actually the same blend, but are produced differently. The Chianti Classico was a 2015 – a wine better drunken while young – and the Chianti Classico Riserva was a 2007 – a wine best enjoyed when aged. The final red, my personal favourite of the whole day, the Apoteosi 2007. It was smooth and fruity, with a hint of vanilla. 

Here we also tasted some delicious food, including different cheeses and breads served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red hot pepper jelly, and yellow pepper jelly. My mouth was very happy.

Once the tasting finished, others in the group visited the shop to stock up on wine while Erin and I just enjoyed the view of the beautiful countryside.

Soon we were on our way to Greve, a small village in Chianti. There isn’t much to do beyond enjoy a cute little square and some cappuccino but I'm always game for checking out a new place.

It was now time for the second winery, Poggio Amorelli. This place had some incredible views.

We tasted a champagne, Vermentino Spumante, and three reds (all pictured in the cover photo of this post): Chianti Classico Docg (2015), Chianti Classico Docg Riserva (2010), and a Supertuscan I.G.T. Toscana Oracolo (2003). The classico riserva that we tasted was a 2010, but the same wine from 2007 was the best year and sells for over €125 a bottle. Like the last winery, we also tasted breads and cheeses with different olive oils and balsamic vinegars. This time we also got to try truffle oil. It was all as close to perfection as I can imagine.
It was now time to head back to Florence, once again enjoying the absolutely beautiful scenery of the Tuscan countryside. I loved the rolling hills, lush green trees, and silhouettes of the distant mountains. I've said this about many places I've been, and will probably say it again about many more: but it was definitely some of the most beautiful scenery I've seen. But it's not about picking the best or the prettiest - it's about embracing the moment and appreciating what's in the here and now. I won't remember the exact views but I will remember feeling happy and content after a great day with a good friend. That's what matters.

Once we were back in Florence, Erin and I rushed around the train station where the bus dropped us off to find a bathroom. A lot of wine and a long bus ride isn't a great combination. We finally found one on the other side of the station that cost €1 to use. Ugh. We scrambled to find change in our pockets and bags, and finally got enough for us to both go in. What relief.

Though we had been eating snacks throughout the day, we were still starving for a solid meal. So we started heading back towards the hostel knowing there were lots of restaurants along the way. The first one we saw had reasonable prices so we went in and sat down. As soon as the waiter placed menus in front of us, we gave each other a look of "what the actual fuck?"

Sigh. A restaurant menu casually advertising gender essentialism. I don't get it. Had I not been so hungry I would have made us find somewhere else, but we stuck it out and as I told Erin "their good food almost makes up for their transphobia."