We just spent seven wonderful days in late July with Gianni, an amazing guide and an even more amazing person. He customized a walking tour in the Sienna area and in and around Montacino and Pienza, the heart of Tuscany. We walked through Chianti vineyards, down rolling country roads, in a forest to find a 500 year-old grain mill, and through postcard hilltop Medieval fortress towns. Gianni organized a cooking lesson at Ri.Me Restorante, a wonderful new Mediterranean restaurant in Sienna and a private vineyard tour at a micro-producer of incredible Brunellos where we bonded with the owner, sampled several prized wines and left on a cloud with no worries in the world. Gianni walked us through rolling wheat fields and vineyards to the Abbey of Sanit'Animo where we heard Gregorian Chants by the resident monks. He left nothing to chance, making sure that each hotel room had a good view and each restaurant offered something special.
Gianni and his colleagues are consummate professionals and caring human beings. We discussed Tuscan and Italian history, family, politics, philosophy, religion and Woody Allen, all threaded with great humor.
He steered us away from sites highlighted by guide books but busy with tourists. Instead, he took us to hidden gems off the beaten path. This was a full-immersion experience, guided by a very nice Renaissance man who has the expression "A good tour guide needs to know his/her chickens". We were honored to be his chickens.
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