After Paris, Brett and I spent one day in Florence, which was gorgeous- it was a super quick trip, but we got to see the Duomo and the Ponte Vecchio, both of which were so beautiful. After Florence, we spent five super relaxing days in Siena. After the hustle and bustle (and not to mention the long flight, train, and jet lag), it was great to slow down a bit and just enjoy our time together. (And drink some Coke Light with some...interesting...labels!)
Two of our closest friends, C and L, joined us for this part of the trip, which was a blast. L lived in Italy for a couple of semesters, and not only does she speak Italian, but she knew of all the best places to check out in Siena! We ate a few absolutely fantastic meals, took a two hour wine education class, visited the cathedral in Siena (It had STRIPES, you guys! Totally my favorite cathedral ever.), amongst other fun things. One of the highlights of our trip was a tour we took through the hills of Tuscany. A driver took us to a family-owned vineyard in Chianti, and we got to see members of the family pull grapes off the vine to make Chianti, as well as touring the winemaking facility, and best of all, doing a tasting! One of the next stops was this gorgeous little town on a hill, San Gimignano. I've been lucky enough to travel a good bit and see a lot of beautiful views, but this one absolutely takes the cake. (Gelato?) Seriously, breathtaking, and I wish we had been able to spend even more time there! It was just so vastly different from anywhere I've ever been, and I'll never, ever forget it. I just wanted to freeze frame our time there for a little bit. We enjoyed watching the sun set over the hills of Tuscany, and then headed to our final stop for dinner.
Dinner was outside San Gimignano, at this little organic farm that's run by three brothers. There's a small inn on the property, which would be a dream to stay at, with it's gorgeous views, and fantastic food. Every single thing they serve at dinner is made on the property. They raise their own animals for meat, grow grapes for their wine, olives for their oil, cultivate all of their produce, and even grind their own wheat to make the fresh pasta they serve at dinner each night. (I do believe the only exception to this was that they don't grow their own coffee beans for the espresso they served at the end of the meal.) Everything is served family style, which feels so warm and home-y, especially after we'd been eating at typical restaurants each night, and you can really see the love and care that goes into the food, and the pride that the owners feel about their end product. I'm so glad we were able to share that night with such great friends, and I'll definitely cherish those memories for a long time.
All in all, it was truly the trip of a lifetime, and I'll cherish the memories made on the trip forever. It was so fun to experience a different way of life, see so much beautiful art and architecture, and soaking it all in. I left Europe feeling so inspired and invigorated, and ready to take on this next chapter of life.