One of the most coveted perks at Travelzoo is the Travelzoo Experience, in which Deal Experts and other employees take advantage of the same travel, entertainment and local deals we publish to our subscribers and report back on their experience.
Anticipation for my trip to Il Borro, Tuscany, was mounting for months. I booked this trip as my Travelzoo Experience 10 months in advance, only a month after my first day at Travelzoo. I knew this was the trip for me because Il Borro Estates is owned by the estate of late fashion desiger Salvatore Ferragamo, so I knew that this resort would be top notch.
Our trip to Tuscany started with a flight into Pisa. After getting re-acquainted with the nuances of manual transmission, we visited the Leaning Tower before heading for Il Borro, which our GPS indicated was a two hour drive from Pisa. (Don't forget, go to the north side of the Tower to get the picture where it looks like you’re holding the tipped tower from crashing.)
The drive from Pisa to Il Borro is quite memorable. We made a few wrong turns, but ultimately made our way to the upward winding road that leads from San Giovanni Valdarndo toward the Il Borro Estate. We were obvious tourist drivers because the fastest speed we could manage on the narrow and curvy roads was about 25 MPH.
Luckily, the staff at Il Borro had a complimentary bottle of wine waiting for us upon our arrival. We stayed in the farm-house accommodations dating back to when the estate was a working family farm. Now it’s been beautifully refurbished into luxe resort apartments, aligning with Ferragamo style. Even the bath products at the resort are fragranced Tuscan Soul, which is a perfume in the Ferragamo line. For warmth on chilly nights the hotel staff will come build a fire for you in the in-villa fireplace. No need to sleep with a donkey.
There is a medieval village on site at the Il Borro compound. This area has cobbled streets and sits nestled in the mountains overlooking a picturesque valley on the estate. There are small shops that are open during a few weekends in the off season that we were lucky enough to catch during our trip there. Strolling through the narrow streets is very romantic – the perfect backdrop for an evening walk with that someone special. We also took advantage of a horseback ride through the vineyards on a sunny afternoon. Although this sounds picturesque, the horses apparently only understood commands in Italian so we had a tough go of it.
Of course, one of the best parts about staying in Tuscany is the wine! We did wine tasting at Il Borro, which is on the high-end side of production as well as at a family-run winery just down the road for the resort. It was very interesting to see the different techniques each employed. (Tip: TSA regulations allow each person to bring back up to two bottles on wine in his or her checked luggage. We opted for this route instead of shipping a case of wine back to the states. Wineries charge upwards of 100 euros just for shipping!)
Planning a trip for yourself? Here are five tips if you're taking this trip or one like it to Tuscany: