On the trail of the black rooster in Tuscany

basil, priomo pomodoro, lemon

After spending the previous day pounding the hot streets of Florence, we took a day to drive into the countryside.  We headed south out of Fiesole, skirting just around Florence and picked up a narrow road leading to the town of Impruneta, known for its ceramic factory.  We stopped to look around knowing the impossibility of bringing home any of the beautiful and very large ceramic pots.

Some of the ceramics on display at the factory in Impruneta

Some of the ceramics on display at the factory in Impruneta

A barrel of lions

A barrel of lions

Our intentions for the day were to get out of town, see some countryside, follow the trail of the black rooster, taste some Chianti Classico and enjoy the views.   Most of these things we accomplished, except not a lot of the wine tasting.  Feeling less than bright and chipper after too much Chianti the night before (yes, another evening of making rather merry), it was all I could do to sit in the back seat for the constantly winding roads.

The black rooster, the symbol of Chianti Classico

The black rooster, the symbol of Chianti Classico

http://winetrailtraveler.com/opinion/columnists/blackrooster.php

Typical countryside in Tuscany

Typical countryside in Tuscany

Chiantic countryside

We drove through some gorgeous countryside and saw the signs of the black rooster everywhere.  The region south of Florence and stretching to Siena is full of Chianti vineyards, the symbol of the region and Chianti Classico being the black rooster.  I believe it was SR222 that we drove, winding southward from Impruneta, past Greve, Panzano in Chianti, and down towards Castellina in Chianti.

http://www.chianticlassico.com/en/faq/vino/

al Paradiso, where we stopped for lunch. It is right in the middle of the Chianti Classico region between Panzano to the north and Castellina to the south

al Paradiso, where we stopped for lunch. It is right in the middle of the Chianti Classico region between Panzano to the north and Castellina to the south

The view from the patio at al Paradiso

The view from the patio at al Paradiso

L at lunch

Awesome dessert, torta di ciccolata albicocchi

Awesome dessert, torta di ciccolata albicocchi at al Paradiso

http://www.alparadiso-chianti.com/

We stumbled upon the perfect lunch spot purely by good luck.  As we drove the narrow roads lined with vineyards we passed what looked like a restaurant, in the middle of nowhere, and did a u-turn to try it out for lunch.  It was indeed a lunch spot, call al Paradiso, with its perfect view and wonderful food.  We enjoyed a leisurely lunch and studied the map.  Our next town was Castillano and more rolling vineyards and twisting roads.

Another picturesque town between Florence and Sienna

Another picturesque town between Florence and Siena

Because I have been to this area before but never to Siena, Augie and Teresa agreed to stop in for a quick look.  I really had no idea it was so large (hard to do a quick stop), plus we parked a bit away from the old town area.  So we ended up walking quite a bit through the ups and downs of Siena, passing the Piazza del Campo where the Palio is run and the huge cathedral, all in the hot afternoon sun.  It didn’t take long to feel the need for the quiet and cooler area around Caldine and Fiesole.

Piazza del Campo in Siena. This is where the palio horse race is held

Piazza del Campo in Siena. This is where the palio horse race is held

Beautiful pots for sale in the Piazza del Campo

Beautiful pots for sale in the Piazza del Campo

Cathedral in Siena

Cathedral in Siena

Ceramic plates for sale on the wall of a building in Siena

Ceramic plates for sale on the wall of a building in Siena

Driving back we took the autostrade and just brushed the outskirts of Florence.  We were worried about rush hour traffic, but at 6 pm it wasn’t as bad as it had been at 10 am that morning.  We were once again happy to pull into the quiet of the farm for a pasta dinner at the house.

The patio back at the farmhouse in the hills above Caldine

The patio back at the farmhouse in the hills above Caldine

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