We tried to verify directions to our destination with the employee on duty, but I think she was German and there was a definite language barrier. However, she was very nice and wanted to be helpful. So we studied the map for awhile and took off in our little Panda. Our first destination was a scheduled wine tasting at Casa Emma in San Donato in Poggio. The drive only took a little over a half hour on the very windy small roads of Tuscany. We thought we were lost when we finally came upon it.
At Casa Emma we had an 11:00 scheduled tasting. Unlike the U.S., tastings here usually should be scheduled. There were about 8 of us total in the group- a couple from Sydney, Australia, a couple from Orange County, California, and a mother and son from Louisville, Colorado! We were so excited to meet someone from our old stomping grounds and were exchanging stories about familiar places and the devastating fires in Colorado. Our tour guide, Carlotta, was amazing! She was very fun and knowledgeable. The wines were pretty good, but their sweet balsamic vinegar was sensational! After the tasting, we had a brief tour of the wine cellars. See the review here.
|Casa Emma Winery|
|Casa Emma Winery|
|Casa Emma Vineyards|
|Sam tasting wine|
|Leslie and Sam in the cellar at Casa Emma|
We found Gaiole and then searched for free public parking so we could venture into the main piazza in search of some lunch. We knew it was going to be challenging to find somewhere open at 1:00 pm (13:00), but we did find a restaurant with a nice shaded patio open and ready for business. When we sat down at La Sfizio di Bianchi, there was only one other table, but obviously several others had the same idea as us, and it filled up quite quickly. The service was something to be desired, but I think it was due to the fact that the server was new and overwhelmed. Sam didn't get his meal until after I was done eating. We had fried dough filled with cheese and wrapped with prosciutto. I had pici- like a thick spaghetti, and Sam (eventually) had trofie with truffles. The food was average, but better than the service. See the full review here.
|Fried cheese dough wrapped with Prosciutto|
|Pici with tomato, parsley, and bacon|
|Trofie with truffles|
|Castello di Brolio|
|View from the Castle|
|Marks in the wall left from WW II bombs|
|This tree was bombed, suffered interior damage, but still lived!|
|The view toward Siena from the castle|
|Bottling production line|
|The Wine Cellar at Brolio|
|Wine tasting with a personalized and dated place mat!|
|Complimentary fried bread "chips"|
|Chicken and Capers in Carrot Sauce|
|The BEST bruschetta on our trip|
Here is a video of the nutria. One of the shop owners nearby gave them the day-old bread.