*Our accommodation was very kindly gifted by the lovely team over at Bookings for You and Mansalto, and the trip planned by the wonderful Violet - thank you all once again!
Tuscany has been on my list-of-places-to-visit-list for the longest time, so when I was asked to join a lovely group of content creators on a press trip back in October I jumped at the chance. I was attending as a photographer for the girls but also got to enjoy the amazing villa on the Mansalto vineyards, and some fantastic gifted experiences too.
Arriving at the villa was like walking into a dream! Villa le Tornaie is a stunning, historical building that dates back to 1899. It sleeps up to 16 people so is perfect for family reunions, a week with the girls, and they even cater to small intimate weddings.
It is surrounded by gentle rolling hills and sculptural cypress alleys, olive groves and sun-soaked vineyards that are all part of the Mansalto estate. Lounging by the pool and relaxing in the hot tub or sauna are at your disposal, or opt for a work out in the gym. Either way Villa Le Tornaie is a magical home from home for your Tuscany trip.
As if we weren't spoiled enough, the first night in the villa we were met by our incredible host Francesca, who had organised a delicious feast to be brought for our evening meal. Local chef from Ristorante Belvedere arrived with dinner in tow. Fried dough, a never ending supply of gorgeous pizzas (including a family recipe celery topping which was amazing!), followed by Nutella dessert pizza, and all washed down with the estates very own wines. Safe to say I went to sleep in my four-poster bed very happy that night!
San Gimignano, Certaldo and Arte al Sole
*Our art tour of Certaldo, plus aperitivo and art lesson in Renai were kindly gifted by Arte al Sole
On our first full day we ventured off to the gorgeous hilltop settlement San Gimignano for a quick lunch, photo session and stroll around the winding streets before heading to Certaldo to meet our fabulous host from Arte al Sole, Lisa. Here we hopped on the funicular up the hillside to the old part of the town, the views were gorgeous!
Lisa took us on a fabulous tour of this small but culture-rich town. Along with her very cute dog Archibaldo, she walked us to up to the town hall for a look around and some history of the area, and showed us some amazing ancient glazed terracotta artworks.
After wandering the quaint streets of Certaldo we hopped back in our hire cars and ventured up winding hills to Renai, where Lisa had arranged a Florentine paper making lesson for us along with aperitivo. Walking into Chiosco ai Renai was like something you would only ever see in a movie. Rolling hills as far as the eye could see, beautiful sunset, a table laid out with drinks and bruschetta for us to enjoy. The trees were adorned with fairy lights and mismatched lampshades, an old camper van was converted into a coffee bar, and another for cocktails.
After having a small 'how am I currently here experiencing such beauty' moment, artist Jen Leo took us inside to begin our paper making class. It was so much fun learning the process and then getting to have a go ourselves! Mine is now proudly stuck onto my fridge like school work from back in the day.
Wine tasting in Mansalto
*Wine tasting and tour, plus meal at La Scuderia kindly gifted
With us being extremely lucky to have been put up in a villa on a working vineyard, our host and boss lady of the estate, Francesca invited us on a wine tasting afternoon and tour of the Mansalto HQ, followed by a glorious meal local eatery La Scuderia.
We sampled their refreshing pink bubbly Mansalto IGT Toscana, cab-sav blend Castello Rapale, and my personal favourite La Commenda Chianti. In between wines we palate cleansed with fresh bread, cornichons and Mansalto extra virgin olive oil, made from their own olive groves.
After the refreshments we were taken to look at the vineyards, the picked grapes, factory areas and barrel rooms. It was so interesting to see this side of things and really made me appreciate each sip knowing the work that goes into wine making.
My trip to Italy was so special and I am so grateful that I was invited to go! Editing all the girls amazing images by the pool was dreamy (post coming soon with a glimpse into some of the content we created there). Thank you once again to Bookings for You, Mansalto and Violet for inviting me to photograph such a great week.