For so many people, visiting Italy is a long-held dream and, here at Walkabout Florence, introducing visitors to their first experiences in the country is probably our favourite part of the job. We’re renowned as being one of the very best on the business for bespoke, small group tours of all the fantastic attractions throughout Florence and beyond – and believe us when we say, there’s a lot to love!
But no matter how beautiful the landscape, how delicious the food and how incredibly deep and rich the culture of Italy, we believe it’s our people that set us apart from many of the other larger operators. Every one of our guides is hand-picked for their knowledge, passion and sense of fun, so we can be sure that, in turn, each and every one of our guests has the experience of a lifetime – after all, everybody deserves their holiday dream to come true, don’t they?
Of course if you’ve never actually been to Italy, no matter how much research you do online or how many gorgeous photographs and books you look at, it might be hard to get a real idea of just what you’ll get to experience on any of our fabulous day trips in Florence and our Tuscany wine tours. While the only real way to understand it entirely is to come on one yourself, we thought hearing a little something from ‘the horse’s mouth’, so to speak, might help you get a handle on just what you’re in for when you spend a day with us.
Tip: It’s all good!
Our Tuscany wine tours are extremely popular with guests, and it’s not really surprising because this part of the country is renowned all over the world for its production of wines – in particular, the Chianti area. So, naturally, we know quite a bit about this particular subject and it’s a very favourable topic of conversation among us when we get together. So, we asked one of our excellent guides, a regular leader on our Chianti food and wine safaris, to sit down and give us the lowdown on what you can expect on one of these tours, and also what it’s like to have the best job on the planet! Once she started, there was no stopping her…
An Insider View on Our Tuscany Wine Tours
For me, the job I do is an absolute privilege; being able to share not only my knowledge, but also my deep pride and my genuine love of my favourite part of the world with guests (many of whom are visiting for the very first time) is truly wonderful. I consider myself very lucky indeed to call this place home and, as a seasoned guide on Walkabout Florence’s Tuscany wine tours, I get to live out my passion every single day. Lucky me!
But lucky you, too, if you’ve made the decision to come and explore this incredible place that everybody falls in love with at first sight. I know Italians are always known for romance and drama, but when you see the Tuscan landscape and eat the food and drink the wine I dare you not to join us in our love affair!
The Ultimate Day Out on the Chianti Food and Wine Safari
I think this amazing day out truly is the ultimate Tuscany wine tour. It’s a long day, yes (around 10 hours from beginning to end) but every moment is filled with something to make you smile – and when it’s over you won’t want it to be! From the moment we leave Florence, to the minute we arrive back, tired, happy and with a head full of memories, I’m completely focused on my guests’ comfort and happiness, and making sure everyone gets what they want out of the day.
There’s usually a mixture of people: some who are on their very first visit to Italy and some who’ve been before and couldn’t resist coming back for more. I’ve met so many lovely folk from all over the globe, but the fulfilment of seeing the joy at their first sight of the rolling hills of the sunburnt landscape as we head out of Florence never gets old, for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The Day Begins
The tour leaves Florence in the morning at 9am, a very civilized time that gives you plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast or even a walk around the city before everyone else gets up.
As an aside, I highly, highly recommend you do this. There’s nothing quite like wandering the deserted streets of Firenze at this time of the day – you’ll see an entirely different side to the bustling, crowded place it becomes later on. Having the iconic landmarks and attractions all to yourself is absolutely wonderful – and don’t forget your phone or camera as you’ll be able to get pictures nobody else does.
One thing (among the many) I really love about the Walkabout Florence Food and Wine Safari is that we get to travel not in a boring, regular coach or minibus, but a specially adapted 4WD vehicle that allows us to head off on some of the lesser-known scenic back roads to see parts of the region not everybody can get to. But chunky and brutish as it is, it’s also extremely safe and comfortable, and getting to sit up that bit higher ensures that you won’t miss a minute of the views.
Views for Days
And, oh, those views. Seriously, I know I’m biased, but if there’s a more beautiful country than Italy I don’t know where it would be. The Tuscan landscape really is something else and the reaction from all my guests reinforces that it honestly is as spectacular as I think it is! This is also where the fun really begins, because, with our special 4WD vehicle, we’re able to turn off the big roads and leave the tour buses behind as we head into the hills and to travel on unmarked ‘white’ roads, deep into the real landscape of Tuscany. Wine tours in the Chianti region don’t always have time to allow you to get a truly authentic immersion, often visiting just one vineyard along with a host of other tourists. But we’re different…
You’ll see plenty of that iconic vista of rolling hills topped by cypress trees as we drive, but because we take you where others don’t go, you’ll also see lovely woodlands, crumbling, rustic ruins and small, out-of-the-way hamlets where local life goes on as it has for hundreds of years. Cameras at the ready because you’re going to need them! Over the time I’ve worked as a guide I’ve mentally marked all the very best photo opportunities, so I make sure all my guests are prepared when they’re coming up.
The Food and Wine Experience
The Chianti Classico region is renowned throughout the world for its wines – particularly its reds. The local traditions and production methods have endured over the centuries, and not only do they look and taste amazing, their fine quality is esteemed by even the most fickle wine aficionados. But what I love about our itinerary is that we’re able to take you not only to a prestigious winery owned by a family of Italian aristocrats, we also show you the other end of the scale and visit a smaller vineyard, which only produces a fraction of the wine the first one does (despite that, it has won multiple awards).
At both you’ll be treated to a guided tour of the cellars and, naturally, the obligatory tastings. If I’m honest, that’s always a great part for me – seeing the enjoyment on guests’ faces as they sample the wines and learn how to appreciate the different tastes from an expert. As well as being able to taste a good selection of tipples you’ll be able to try olive oils and cheeses – it’s Italy after all! In the first winery we visit, you’ll even be taken on a tour of the underground olive mills in the tunnels beneath the villa – it’s really quite fascinating and I’ve never had a guest who didn’t learn something new here!
Don’t ask me to choose my favourite of the two wineries we visit, though, because that’s exactly the point: they are as superb as each other in very different ways, but once you’ve seen both, I can honestly tell you you’ve got a true picture of the region in terms of its grape growing and wine production.
Tip: In case you haven’t noticed, wine is a huge passion of mine, and of all the guides – so please don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way.
Lunch is my favourite part of any day so I get to live out my very own foodie dream as a guide – particularly on this wine and food safari. We’ll take you to a very authentic Tuscan restaurant where you’ll enjoy an incredible selection of local cuisine, cooked with love and served with a smile – it’s just the Italian way! Your lunch will be accompanied by magical views over the landscape and, as you relax into the sublime feeling of fullness, you’ll finally understand what we mean by ‘la bella vita’. As many times as I come here (and it’s a lot!) I never tire of the views and the food and it’s always difficult to leave it behind. But Greve awaits!
Tip: By the way, if you’re a keen home cook and you want to learn how to replicate the delicious Tuscan cuisine once your holiday is over, I highly recommend booking on our cooking class day excursion. Don’t worry, you’ll also get to eat your masterpieces!
Greve is an absolutely charming place and one that’s certainly best explored at leisure. Here I leave my guests to wander around (it’s impossible to get lost) and soak up the sights, smells and sounds of a town that really is a perfect example of authentic Tuscan culture and history. Some of my guests take the opportunity to sit down and grab a coffee in a local café and do a little people watching, while others stroll around and take in the sights of this lovely town that dates back to the Middle Ages. Me? I like to take the time to sit somewhere in the sun, relax and thank my lucky stars (and my bosses) that I continue to be allowed to do the best job in the world!
When we meet up again I take my guests to a very famous butcher shop located in the town and we’ll make a selection of purchases to take on the journey with us. (I might let them eat a little, but we mostly save it so we’ve got something to eat with our tastings at the second small winery.) It’s always a reluctant departure from Greve, but, as ever, there’s always something to look forward to around the corner…
The Intimate Experience of Our Tuscany Wine Tours
I hope that my little musings have given you some idea as to what you can expect from coming on safari with myself or any of the other fantastic guides at Walkabout Florence. The beauty of these day trips is that the itineraries are designed not only to make sure that you see and do the things that will appeal to someone wanting to really get to know the heart and soul of this part of the world, but also to make sure that it’s a really fun and relaxed experience.
While big, busy tours have their place, they offer a very different kind of experience to travelling with a small group of likeminded people who aren’t just interested in ticking things off a list, but who want to see what life is really like away from the well-worn tourist path. Personally, I think a small group trip with a local guide is really the only way to see and do the things that make exploring a destination worthwhile. This is particularly true in Italy, where our culture revolves around family, food and the preservation of tradition.
I’m so proud to be able to share a small slice of my culture and my life with guests from all over the world – many of them who have become good friends. I suppose that’s really how I see my job as a guide: showing a whole lot of lovely friends around my home region. But no matter how many times I travel the roads around this stunning area, every day at every stop we make, I discover something new and beautiful to love about it. And it’s that aspect of my job that keeps me so passionate and enthusiastic.
As we start to return to life after such strange and uncertain times, I am even more excited about getting back to work so I can share it all with all those new friends I’m just waiting to meet!
We Are Walkabout Florence
With a reputation as one of the best independent tour operators in the business, Walkabout Florence specialises in a range of outstanding day tours to help you to experience the most fun and exciting parts of Italy’s art, history and culture. Our friendly local guides are passionate about ensuring the satisfaction of our guests in every way and their passion is what sets them apart. From cultural day tours and Vespa and Fiat 500 tours, to food and wine safaris, our highly recommended tours are designed to provide as enjoyable an experience as possible.