Anyone who has ever watched Under the Tuscan Sun is predisposed to love Tuscany. I confess to loving the film and after having the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Tuscany I can state that the area lived up to my very high expectations.
The trip from Rome was three hours by car. The limo driver went out of his way to bring to life the entire journey. We stopped off in the cliff town of Orti and had a spectacular lunch. I would highly recommend this detour if you have a spare 90 minutes.
We arrived at Castelo Banflo and the views of the sweeping country roads and the majestic castle were awe inspiring. The place is breathtaking. The castle itself has been converted in to a luxury hotel for a maximum of 30 people. It makes a great place for a family gathering or special occasion.
The estate offers a terrific cooking class which I also highly recommend. The chefs were amazing especially chef Fernando. The classes do book up so I would also advise you booking your spot in advance. I actually got the kitchen to myself which was a double bonus and really got to work the whole process from start to finish. Eating the food you had prepared from scratch is always something special.
Also, while on the topic of tours, make sure you book a wine tour. You spend several hours touring the different fields and sampling the different varietals. Banfi is a well renowned winemaker and make sure you sample of that is on offering. There are so many special tastes.
After completing the cooking and wine tour I truly believe that I have got to experience the very best of Tuscany. Btw, check out the balsameria Banfi. The aroma is exquisite.
I hope you get to add this designation to your travel bucket list. You will not be disappointed.