#18 - Montalcino, Italy
Montalcino was a last minute change to the itinerary. When we originally planned the trip we were going to stay in another little town called Lucignano, but as we got into the trip and discovered what we liked and did not like we decided to change this stop to Montalcino. The reason was pretty simple, we were going to be here over my birthday, Christmas and Lea's birthday and we wanted to make absolutely sure we were in a place we loved. Since we had been to Montalcino for our tenth anniversary we knew we would have a wonderful time there, and we were right. Italy during the holidays is a special place and we all enjoyed being part of the local festivities and exploring the towns which were dressed up for the holidays. Lea and I had great birthdays and while it was not Christmas at home, we did our best to keep as many of our traditions as possible. Being away for the holidays was probably one of the more difficult parts of the trip, but being in such a beautiful and charming location made it a little easier.
While in Montalcino we went to Siena about 5 times (we loved that town), Florence, Montepulciano, Pienza, and Orvieto. We ate fabulous food, drank my favorite wine in the world (Brunello di Montalcino), celebrated two birthdays, went to a natural hot spring, shopped, hiked up and down the steep hills around town and started our obsession with The Newsroom (which ends badly in New Zealand). We loved it.