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600 years of history and the Marquis of Mazzei
600 years of history and the Marquis of Mazzei

This is the fourth installment in a seven-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Head back to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 5Day 6 or Day 7 of the tour.


DAY 4

Cortona, Chianti
From Perugia we headed into the hill country and arrived in Cortona, a town surrounded by 2,800-year-old Etruscan walls. It’s one of the oldest hill towns in Tuscany. This area was made famous in Francis May’s book, Under the Tuscan Sun, so I was worried that it would be commercialized and overblown. How wrong I was. We strolled down the pebble road to the author’s house that sits hillside overlooking the valley and breathed in the freshly rain-cleansed earth as the mist retreated from the fog-caped, patchwork valley below. As I walked through the steep cobblestone streets of the town to the main park area, people greeted me with a smile and, “Bonjourno.” It was like no other place I’d been before,  and somehow even better than May’s description of her bucolic existence in this nostalgically beautiful little Italian town. If you crave a peace you think no longer exists—go here.

Shopkeeper’s helper in Cortona

Fonterutoli
How could the day get any better than walking into a novel and finding out the real thing is even better than the book or movie? Let’s just say meeting the Marquis of Mazzei on his wine estate and hanging out in his family’s personal library with a treasure trove of 600-year history in its confines may have done the trick. Just another Insight Vacations flourish, and one this writer will not soon forget.

Mazzei estate
Mazzei estate

The winery tour was highlighted by the natural cave walls and a running spring in the fermentation warehouse (essentially the massive basement of the winery). We were warmly greeted by the Marquis and fed at the estate’s restaurant, which is an elegant bistro with floor to ceiling windows and a family atmosphere. The food was beautifully presented and the Mazzei wines were the perfect accompaniment.

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Chianti Classico wine, Mazzei winery

Borgo San Luigi (the Villa)
Our day ended at the Borgo San Luigi, Tuscany, where we were warmly greeted at the front door by two lovable St. Bernards. The villa isn’t massive, which is appealing, and if it’s serenity you’re craving, the hotel offers not only that, but rolling hills dotted with trees and vineyards in every direction. Several of the runners in the group saw the opportunity to hit the pavement for a jog, and I don’t think out of five of us anyone took the same route.

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Borgo San Luigi greeter

Tip: When the itinerary says, “light supper,” don’t be fooled. The meals are plentiful and with lots of choices. You’ll be thankful for the long walks on the tours as a way to burn off some calories.

The grounds include a separate building from the room accommodations, which is classic and cozy and houses the dining area as well as a large recreational room with a staffed bar. Elegant, fun, and social.

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Social time at the villa, Borgo San Luigi

This is the fourth installment in a seven-part series following JohnnyJet.com writer Cynthia Cunniff through her experience of touring Italy with Insight Vacations. Head back to the series home page for the full Italy experience—or jump straight over to Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 5Day 6 or Day 7 of the tour.

Road in Cortona
Road in Cortona
Picking flowers for shrine - Cortona
Picking flowers for shrine - Cortona
Hillside shrine - Cortona
Hillside shrine - Cortona
View from Cortona
View from Cortona
Flowers in November - Cortona
Flowers in November - Cortona
The Marquis of Mazzei welcoming the group
The Marquis of Mazzei welcoming the group
Locals enjoying the Mazzei bistro
Locals enjoying the Mazzei bistro
Mazzei winery
Mazzei winery
Mazzei winery
Mazzei winery
Mazzei estate
Mazzei estate
Laundry day at Mazzei estate
Laundry day at Mazzei estate
Road to Borgo San Luigi hotel
Road to Borgo San Luigi hotel
Borgo San Luigi - side room to suite
Borgo San Luigi - side room to suite
Room at villa - Borgo San Luigi
Room at villa - Borgo San Luigi
Room at Villa - Borgo San Luigi
Room at Villa - Borgo San Luigi
Cynthia Cunniff

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2 Comments On "Not Your Grandma's Bus Tour of Italy, Day IV"
  1. Anonymous|

    Beautiful tour with your words! I want to go there!

  2. roma|

    These places are so awesome.by seeing the pic it feel like that i m still there and watching and feeling such a marvelous beauty.

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