Montalcino, Banfi Winery, and Abbey of Sant' Antimo

Tuesday, May 2
Our day began with a trip to Montalcino; a hill town in Tuscany Italy about 40 Km from Sienna.  It is most famous for it's ruby red Brunello di Montalcino wine.  We started our tour at the Fortezza;
The Fortezza
a well preserved fortress from the 14th century.  For about 5 Euros you can climb the fortress, see the rooms, walk the ramparts, and enjoy the stunning views in every direction. When you are young and learning about the middle ages, you are told about castles and forts and you then wonder in your mind just what they would look like.  At Fortezza di Montalcino, your wonders become reality.  The way the fortress is built, the strategic positioning, the various booby trap places and advantageous spots for weapons, the sites for the commander/leader of the army occupying the fort and for lookouts to look, if you want first-hand any of the elements of medieval warfare, the Fortrezza has them all.

Steve enjoying the view

Rene' enjoying the view

View of the city below

View of the countryside

When you are done enjoying the view stop by the wine shop and sample the Brunello.  Rumor has it that if you engage with the wine and the pourers (Sergio), you will get your money's worth along with a great education about this fabulous wine.  
Colleen making a selection
We also found out that they will ship to the US for free, rumor has it a couple cases will be making it's way back to the states, may have to take a road trip....

The town itself is laid out with narrow steep roads dotted with small specialty shops, cafes, and many wine shops.  There are numerous churches and at the Piazza del Papolo, the town hall, a very tall stone structure with a campanile, a watch tower topped with a large bell.  It was a wonderful place to rest a bit and have an expresso and my favorite hot chocolate.
My drink of choice..Hot Chocolate!

Steve and I enjoying the Piazza!
 Loved the small village feel and the city of Montalcino.

Banfi Winery
Our day continued with at stop at the Banfi winery for wine tasting, amazing views, and a wonderful 5 course Tuscan cuisine lunch at La Taverna Banfi.
The winery, tasting room, and Inn is situated between the cities of Noviligure and Acqui and lies across 50 acres of land, 46 of which are dedicated to Noble wines.  For those of you looking for romantic inns or wedding spots this winery would be perfect. The views were spectacular and the wine and the food was outstanding.

Our amazing group!

Norman, Stephanie & Michael with the birthday wine

We all truly enjoyed this extraordinary Tuscan experience.

Abbazio Di Sant Antimo
Our last stop of the day was the Abbey of Sant' Antimo.  It is a former Benedictine monastery nestled in the countryside near Montalcino.  Our time of arrival was perfect as the monks had just started singing their Gregorian antiphons or chanting.  This a a magical place of spirituality, sparse in ornate decor but the simplicity allowed you to reflect and feel the tranquility.  A must see if you are in the area.


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