The Wonders of Chianti Tour was great!
We called the day before the tour was scheduled, and were picked up at our villa (which was well hidden off some obscure side road south of Florence) by Enzo right on schedule. He drove us to his home town not far away, then lead us on a walking tour of the town where he was able to graphically explain the history of the Chianti region, the need for walled cities on almost every hill, and the history of the Florence vs. Siena battles. After a stop for cappuccino, he drove us through the hills of the Chianti region explaining the flora and fauna. He even found a spot to pull off to the side so we could pick wild raspberries!
A little before noon we stopped at a beautiful combination winery/resort/spa where we were met by a very engaging fellow named Dario Castagno who proceeded to give us a private tour of the winery, all the while filling in with very detailed facts about the history of the area, the evolution of the Chianti wine making industry, etc. At the end of the walk through the winery and its grounds he and Enzo hosted a very lovely lunch for our group. After lunch we had a chance to purchase some of the local wine and buy some gifts.
After lunch, Enzo drove us through more of the countryside, ending at the Castello Di Brolio not far from Siena. After a leisurely tour of the castle and grounds, Enzo returned us to our villa right on schedule. All of your many e-mails to coordinate our tour and these two gentlemen's engaging personalities made our visit to the Chianti region of Italy an experience our group will never forget!
Our Chianti tour was with Franco. He met our expectations completely. He chose a small and a large winery for us to taste/visit. We had a personal tour of the small one by the owner and an enjoyable experience at the large one. His choice for lunch was superb and a good cultural experience. He was most knowledgeable of the entire region and its history and made for a wonderful day. We'd recommend both selections whole-heartedly.
Bruce and Heather B.
In fact, the Wonders of Chianti tour was one of the real highlights of our tour. The combination of the incredible landscape and sights and the knowledge base, and sense of humor displayed by Dario, as well as his personal contacts in the region, made it all happen. It was a winner on all accounts.
We enjoyed out tour with Dario completely! Not only was he charming, but he also has a wealth of information about the region and the history of it. The lunch was a surprise (we had rabbit, which I have never had before and it was exquisite) and the wine was fabulous. Dario also found us a place to stay for the next couple of nights, a nice hotel just outside of Siena. We would say that this tour was well worth the splurge and a definite highlight of our trip.
Thank you Dario, and I wish we could have been more exciting so as no make your next book. Ah well, we'll work on that for next time.
Hayley & Nabil T.
Pam and myself are finally back in Australia. I would like to offer a big thank-you for our day in Tuscany. It was a wonderful chance for us to see at first hand, a part of the world so different to our 20th century country. Also thanks for suggesting Siena. We spent 3 hours exploring as much of the city as we could and only regret we had so little time to spend there. It is truly a magical place. Next time we visit we will get a villa in the countryside and a car to get around. Pam read your book on the plane and insisted in laughing out loud and reading passages out to me. We must have been about the most ordinary visitors you have had!! Thanks again for the tour. Next week when we are lunching at a vineyard in the Barossa Valley, I will raise a glass of Aussie Shiraz to Tuscany.
Dear Jessica -
We had hoped that our Wonders of Chianti trip would be the highlight of our visit to Italy and it truly was. Dario was a great guide and we immediately felt at ease with him. Everything he showed us was wonderful, but the highlight was the lunch we had where we could sit in the beautiful small village, relax, and talk We only spent two nights in Sienna, but Dario gave us such depth of knowledge about not only the wine areas, but all the countryside, the history of the region, and especially the people that we can't wait to return and experience more. We will be giving Dario's name to everyone we know who is traveling to that area. Much thanks for your website for letting us discover Dario.
Jim, Annette, and Micha N.
My daughter, Kassie and I had a wonderful time on our tour with Dario. We enjoyed the day and it was one of the best days we had in Italy so please thank Dario for us... The food was excellent and it did not seem like "just a snack" and I can honestly say it was the meal we liked the most during our stay. If you find out when Dario visits NYC in April, let us know because we are visiting New York in April too and would love to come to his book signing if we are in town at the same time.
Thank you again for the great experience... it was a memory we will cherish forever..
I wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our tour with Dario. We enjoyed the vistas and sites, but most of all Dario. This was really the only opportunity we had during our trip for an extended conversation. We talked of Momism, falling birth rate, Palio, community allegiances, crime, view of the US, etc. He's a smart guy, observant and articulate. The next time we tour with him, I think an extended lunch with more time for wine and conversation would be the plan. I urge your future guests not to underrate this part of the tour. Please pass along our thanks.
Richard & Teddi M.
Dario was prompt and entertaining up through lunch. Then rain came and we had to do some rearranging with the schedule, at which point it got a bit odd. Also, I know it's a wine tour, but is the guide supposed to drink so much? I was a little concerned. After all, he is our driver. By the end, his behavior was inappropriate and non-professional. One may chalk that up to "he's Italian, what do you expect?" I expected professionalism. I would not recommend him.
I would, however, recommend the services of In Italy Online. Your group was very helpful in recommendations and making arrangements. Your sight is a great resource for planning. Also, you should tell all your clients to rent the GPS unit. That thing was a lifesaver! (We named ours Sophia, and she became our best friend!)
Thank you for all your assistance.
My family and I had a wonderful time touring the Chianti region. Dario was a pleasure and very knowledgeable. We enjoyed his colorful stories of the people and traditions. Lunch in the small village was the highlight, along with the fabulous wine of course.
We will be sure to recommend this to our friends who are planning to venture into Italy.
The three of us had an outstanding, wonderful, fun-filled, adventurous, joyous and much too quick of a time with Dario for our one day in Tuscany. It was unanimously the BEST day of our two-week trip which covered Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Pompei, Sorrento and Tuscany. Additionally, we took Dario's suggestion and visited Siena for a day. Siena is absolutely beautiful and one day we'd love to return for the Palio. All three of us were extremely ecstatic that Dario's tour which we read about on initaly.com more than exceeded all of our expectations. For anyone planning a trip to Italy, Dario and this tour is positively well worth the day away from the cities and museums to understand how the Italians truly live their daily lives.
Thank you so much.
I was one of the women on the trip with Deborah. I know that she answered this e-mail but I just wanted to add my two cents. By far this was my favorite day in Italy. I am not a big city person so this was just the ticket. Getting out of the city, seeing how the local country folks live, and enjoying the countryside. Dario is very good with people (I realize that it is his job) but he made us all feel very comfortable, like we had gone on an outing with a friend. I would recommend this tour to anyone who was going to Italy especially if they did not want to stick to real touristy things in the city.
We enjoyed Italy immensely! And we were so looking forward to our day with Dario, and then it rained, no, it poured! It was such a bummer. We still had a wonderful time with Dario but we had to rearrange our day a bit.
The high tech winery was closed so the first thing we did was tour the Etruscan ruins--in the cold, rain, and mud. It was interesting but we were a bit miserable. Dario sensed this so he suggested we stop for a cappuccino, which we did in is hometown. He then decided that we could warm up at his place and watch a videotape of the Palio. It was very interesting but a thought did flash through my mind that we paid all that money and were watching an Italian videotape. Dario did translate and it was very interesting to learn about the Palio. David actually was really into all the details of the Palio and someday would love to see it. We then visited the other winery and the 2 medieval towns and had the most wonderful lunch in Volpaia (it really was our best meal in Italy!) but we skipped the castle due to the rain, though we did drive by to look at it. I know Dario did the best he could given the weather, and he was a very informative, interesting, knowledgeable guide, unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate but that was out of our control.
Overall we were very pleased with the tour. Dario was great, we learned so much about the region's history, wines, olives, people. He really was a fountain of information. We will definitely use your services again when we return (hopefully in the very near future) to Italy. Thank you!
Mary Morvis R.
As you know we did go on a tour in July with Dario while in Siena per your recommendation and took the Wonders of Chianti day tour. Will say he was very knowledgeable and explained to all (four of us) the history of the Etruscan tombs as well as history of the small towns we visited as we would not have experienced if we had made this trip on our own. The tour was on the day after the Palio and he was suffering from post traumatic syndrome as his districts horse did not place first. The lunch was fantastic at a small village restaurant following which we went on a tour of his place of residence where we watched videos of the Palio. Since that day he has communicated via e-mail what has been going on with his life and also further traumatic depression again after losing the Palio in August.
Also, must state that your initaly updates were very informative as will did purchase a global cellphone from Planet Omni and all the maps of the areas we were visiting came in handy. Recomend-do not leave home without them.
Dr. Frank F.
Italy was fabulous, we loved every minute. Our Wonders of Chianti was certainly one of the highlights of our trip! Dario was great - he gave us an informative history lesson of the region which really helped bring things together for us. The Etruscan tombs were fascinating, we really enjoyed those, learning lots about the people & their land. The wineries were great, as was the Brolio castle - breathtakingly beautiful with views to die for! We had an unbelievable lunch in Volpala at a spot that had all local food, heavenly. We really had a great day, learned so much that it made our second week there that much more enjoyable. Dario does a fabulous job! One town we enjoyed was Montalpucino - beautiful and quaint as was Pienza. Spending time at the Duomo in Siena is a must, the library in the Duomo was probably one of the most beautiful group of paintings we had ever seen. And you don't get the insane crowds you get at the Duomo in Florence - we had to wait 2 hours so we skipped that. In Siena we were able to walk right in.
Thanks again for all your help organizing our tour.
We just got back from our trip to Italy on Saturday. We were very pleased with our tour of the Chianti country with Dario. He was excellent. We got a history lesson along with all the sights, wineries, castles, etc. and a wonderful lunch to top it off. We all agreed that this was one of the highlights of our trip along with many others and would recommend his tour without hesitation.
Thanks again for being the liaison,
Our trip was all we had hoped for and more! The day we spent with Dario was fascinating. He has so much knowledge of the local history, culture and truly loves the land. The wineries were fascinating. The wine was great. The meal we had with Dario was one of the best we had while in Italy. We stayed in a villa in Panzano in Chianti called Fattoria Valle. It is in a beautiful setting, very clean,nice people but a little too highbrow for us. We probably would have enjoyed a working farm and family. The food was ok, but nothing to write home about. We were a bit disappointed that they did not use more of the "fruits of the land ".We had a wonderful day in Siena. The train travel is super. We will definitely be back! Thanks for your help.
My girlfriend and I had a wonderful time in Chianti with Dario. It's difficult to identify the highlight of the trip, as it rained most of the day, but we mostly enjoyed having lunch in Volpaia with the people of the village. They were some of the friendliest people we met on our trip and the food was outstanding. Our conversations with Dario during that time ranged from politics to our favorite movies. The experienced combined the excitement of being in a far away land with the comforts of being at home. It was truly a great experience.
The most unexpected part of our tour was the unscheduled finish in Siena. My girlfriend and I were staying in Florence where Dario picked us up in the morning. He suggested we finish our tour in Siena and take a relatively short bus ride back to Florence. With Dario's knowledge and passion for Siena, it didn't take much to convince us. Dario quickly oriented us with the city, helped us buy our bus ticket, and pointed us in the right direction. It was a terrific end to a great day.
Please send my thanks and best wishes to Dario.
What a nice touch - a welcome home...thank you.
We had a terrific trip, and Dario's tour of Chianti was one of our favorite parts of the vacation. This was our first trip to Italy, so we were on a tour of Venice, Florence, and Rome (all big city destinations). So, we intentionally added Dario's Chianti tour and another side trip to the Isle of Capri, in order to get a feeling for the rural and natural beauty of the country. The day in Chianti was just what we needed. Dario was entertaining, funny, and informative. We especially enjoyed the lunch in Volpaia, it was some of the best food we had on the trip. The other folks we were traveling with (who did not go on this side-tour) were jealous and curious about how they could make arrangements on their next trip - so we passed along your webpage and Dario's info to them.
As far as messages to other first time travelers, if not elsewhere on your pages, I suppose I would mention:
- Non-smokers beware! Italians smoke everywhere and its rare to find no-smoking sections.
- Ice cubes seem to be as rare and valuable as diamonds - you won't find them often.
- Do your best to avoid renting a car in the cities. The streets are very small, and the driving pace is fast and aggressive.
- Don't worry much about not knowing Italian. Having a few key words for introductions and greetings sufficed - most everyone speaks English (but they may pretend not to unless you at least greet them in Italian).
- Although we were never uncomfortable or fearful in the cities, a "gypsy" did attempt to pickpocket my friend. Carry money/wallets in your front pockets, or in a money belt.
- You are better-off avoiding tour guides at the sites. Educate yourself about what you are going to see before getting there - perhaps before you leave or the night before you plan to see it - using guide books. Some attractions are very crowded and you don't want to spend your time there learning about what you are seeing, concentrate on actually seeing and appreciating it while you are there. For example, you may only have a few moments in front of the Pieta in St. Peters, and you want to spend that time viewing it, rather than reading/listening about it.
- Currency conversion is no problem. There are ATM machines most everywhere. Most are "Cirrus" and require 4-digit PIN numbers. Check with your bank before leaving - and if you're going to use a credit card periodically, you should advise your issuing bank that you'll be traveling abroad, so they don't place a investigation hold on your account.
Thanks again for helping to make our vacation so enjoyable.
Have to say though the rain followed us most of our trip, we had a most enjoyable time. The tours (Chianti, Rome Drive Around) were indeed everything that I had read about and then some!!!!!!!!
Dario-what can we say!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He definitely got the female attention. To spend the entire day visiting the ruins, driving through beautiful Chianti country, visiting a local winery as well as the winery of his friend Paulo (where my husband was so impressed- purchased a few bottles from Paulo-and were shipped to the USA-exactly per our instructions). But it was rather thoughtful of Dario to present to Sister Angelee her own personal bottle of Chianti wine on the occasion of her 50th Anniversary as a Religious. Spending the entire day with Dario was a pleasure and our compliments are endless. We learned so much more on a close personal level than from any other humdrum travel tour operator.
Dario, thanks once again-I know Sister Angelee made it into your book.
We highly recommend to any future tourist to Italy to contact your agency to schedule a tour with any of them. Jessica, thank you on behalf of my husband, myself and Sister Mary Angelee for truly once in a lifetime experience.
John and Danette V. (California)
Sister Mary Angelee (Texas)
Thank you so much for all your help with planning our recent trip to Italy. Your recommendations for dining in Rome were just perfect. Nino's was the best! The staff, food and ambiance were just what we were looking forward to. We can still taste the food "in our minds".
Our tour with Dario was just wonderful. It was my second time through the Chianti region and I trully appreciated it more the second time around with Dario as our guide. The weather might not have been perfect, but everything else was. Being with Dario for the day was just delightful. He is a very talented man with a special love of his country. His informative narration of the area and expert driving of the region made for a perfect day. We would never have seen so much, had such a wonderful meal and experienced all, without Dario leading the way. I am so happy that I found you on the web and that you led us to Dario.
We are looking forward to a trip to southern Italy someday, and for sure, we will be contacting In Italy. Thank you,
Sincerely, Lee and Claire F.
My wife and I really enjoyed our day with Dario in his "back yard" of the Chianti region. As a mater of fact, we celebrated mothers day with the bottle chianti we purchased at the small winery he took us to. It brought back wonderful memories of the trip - especially the delicious lunch we had that day. The trip was exactly like you had described on the web site, the only negative we could think of was that the day ended too quickly for us. Dario even managed to have the sun come out for the day, after some cloudy and rainy days in Florence.
We will recommend the tour with Dario for any of our friends that's considering a trip to Italy.
We just returned from our trip and want to thank you so much for arranging the "Wonders of Chianti" tour for us. It was truly a highlight of what was already a wonderful vacation. Dario was delightful, fun and knowledgable. We had a remarkable day and our only regret was that we had not booked more time. We hope to return next year and will contact you then. Thank you.
After traveling a zillion hours the day before, this trip was just what we needed. Dario was so informative and pleasant that after an entire day we felt as though he was an old friend. The trip was just as I had imagined, the beautiful countryside and villages were all so beautiful, I felt as though I was in a dream. In fact I had brought the book "Under the Tuscan Sun" with me and started reading it the day after this trip and I was grateful that I had the experience so I could somewhat relate to the book. Adding Siena to the trip was a nice and unexpected detour which made the day even better. I have told many friends about this and hope they have the chance to take this tour.
Sara and David B.
Cindy and I would like to thank you very much for the excellent tour of the region. Before coming to Italy, I had hoped to take a tour just like the one you offered. You absolutely fulfilled our expectations. Mille grazie! Your tour made quite an impression on both of us. The large-scale bottling of private label Chianti wines was impressive; and the countryside is just beautiful. Lunch was fabulous - perhaps the best meal we had the entire 2 weeks in Italy! The straightforward food and wine of Chianti, along with the fresh air and beautiful views, were just what we were looking for when we came your way. Fantstic!
Your stories of the Castello di Brolio were also quite informative. It, too, gave me a first hand feeling for the long history of the region, the many conflicts, strife, and battles - which distrubed me in a way I did not expect, perhaps because of the juxtaposition of such human pain offset against such splendous natural beauty.
The visit to the Etruscan tomb was also interesting. It piqued my interest enough to do some additional reading. I'll send you a separate email containing the Encarta article on Etruscan Civilization, which I found interesting and you may care to read.
Thanks once again for the tour. It was wonderful.
Greg and Cindy W.
Thank you for sharing your beloved Chianti with us. The history, the wine, the anecdotes and the landscape were all enchanting! You have helped to make our fifth anniversary an extra special event.
Steve R. and Susan G.
Your tour was very enjoyable, while we learned a lot about the Chianti region. Your intelligence and knowledge of this area and of many other things was impressive! A great way to end our trip.
Mark and Laura P.
Thanks for a delightful Tuscan feast for the eye, stomach and soul. You provided us what you advertised and more. May the wonders you showed us remain with us the rest of our lives to remind us of how life can be in balance.
Joel and Kathy D.
This is what we came to Tuscany for! Thank you for a marvellous day. Interesting, entertaining and gorgeous. We will long remember our Chianti countryside and your splendid introduction.
I do not believe in love at first sight, but from what I have seen in the Chianti countryside, seeds of faith are sown.
Sudin M. S.
A wonderful tour. The information, special insights, your personal inflections made the trip very special. Your views and favorite towns and features are what we found most valuable. Thank you for your time and the opportunity to see the Chianti through your eyes.
Scott and Beth R.
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