Where We Be
Chianti Wine Country, Italy
Via del Volte is a vaulted stone tunnel-of-a-street that is home to restaurants and shops
Hotel Salivolpi in Castellina is idyllically situated in the midst of Chianti wine country. It's sure to be among our favorite lodgings of the trip.
The lovely grounds at Hotel Salivolpi invite you to sip a glass of wine on the patio and listen to the birdsong
Looking cool in front of my sweet ride! This is the second time in Italy we've rented a Fiat Panda.
One of dozens of small hill towns near Castellina -- each one beckoning to be explored
The impossibly picturesque town of Volpaia is located just a few miles from Castellina, perched atop a steep hill
It takes about five minutes to explore the town. Largely undiscovered by tourists, Italians know of it and frequent the handful of restaurants on the main piazza.
Robin peeks out from behind a lemon tree on Volpaia's piazza
Looking across the valley to a lovely vineyard and villa
Volpaia is especially picturesque because its buildings have a consistent look about them
San Gimignano looks like a medieval dream village here
We caught sight of San Gimignano's unforgettable medieval towers during our drive to Volterra
Having visited San Gimignano on our last trip to Tuscany, we satisfied ourselves with this view from outside the town
Huge entry gate to Volterra
Imposing walls rise high on the piazza
The small church of Castellina is lit up each night, and the tower's bells toll each hour
Castellina's church steps and piazza are a gathering place in town
Penne with olives, capers, roma tomatoes, and spicy chili oil – yum!
Perfect weather, perfect surroundings -- perfect picnic!
San Gimignano
Happily exploring Volterra's main pedestrian thoroughfare
Volterra is dramatically situated and offers a commanding view over the surrounding countryside
We were impressed by this fairly intact Roman amphitheater and baths just outside the walls of the city
We wandered slowly through Volterra, delighting in side alleys, sudden viewpoints, and stone, stone, stone everywhere
The view from Volterra's walls is breathtaking on a green spring day
We enjoyed wandering through this green park located within Volterra's medieval walls
Gothic Volterra is a good setting for the vampires in "Twilight"
Also quintessentially Italian -- sponged yellow paint, cracked plaster, worn red bricks showing through
Quintessentially Italian -- laundry hanging outside a window
One of Volterra's many side alleys
Robin's "European look," with sweater wrapped over her shoulders
Signs of spring are everywhere in Italy
We rented our tiny Fiat Panda at the Florence
airport and drove south, smack-dab into the
middle of Chianti wine country for three days.
The town of Castellina sits in idyllic Tuscan
countryside, and the twisty roads you negotiate
to get there are an adventure in their own right.

In town there’s a small church with wonderfully
loud bells – and, on the afternoon we first
visited, wonderfully loud Italian children playing
tag on the piazza, with mothers looking on
fondly. A handful of medieval streets radiate
out from the church, with the most memorable
being a vaulted stone tunnel of a street called
Via del Volte, home to restaurants and shops.

We stayed at Hotel Salivolpi just outside town
in a lovely room with a slanting beamed ceiling.
The yard outside our stone cottage was inviting
and full of birdsong. I must say, it's a pleasure
to come to an Italian town that doesn't have any
must-see historical sights for a change, where
you can get away with just strolling, relaxing,
and enjoying.

Day trips in the heart of Tuscany are a beautiful
thing. On our second day we made a short day
trip to a very small hill town called Volpaia. If
you like picturesque, as we do, then Volpaia is
your cup of tea. At a local store we bought
pecorino cheese, sliced salami, artichokes, a
pear, a bottle of wine, and some Nutella-2-Go
and made ourselves an idyllic picnic at a well-
located picnic bench looking down on the town.
People would fight for this view at a restaurant!

On our third day we journeyed to the much
larger and dramatically situated hill town of
Volterra (where
Twilight is set). This wonderful
gothic town is filled with imposing stone
buildings and winding medieval passageways.
On the way there, we passed the unforgettable
medieval towers of San Gimignano. Bellissima!
Volterra's towers and castles create visual delight