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There are so many incredible regions of Italy to choose from when planning a trip; you could really easily spend a year there and not spend enough time seeing and tasting all that this beautiful country has to offer. While my first choice would be somewhere by the sea (Sicily is still one of my dream trips!) on our last visit to Italy, we traveled for a wedding, and our destination was set for us!

With our home base a villa in Umbria, just on the border of Tuscany, we discovered there were countless day trips we could take: Perugia, Siena, Assisi, Montepulciano, and so many more.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano was one of our day trips, and this spectacular medieval city atop a giant hill, surrounded by wine, is well worth a visit, especially during sunflower season in Tuscany. Fields of gold were everywhere! Be prepared to drive and walk some steep streets and alleyways in order to get some of the best views, but be sure to take in the architecture on your way.

We were traveling with a group, which isn’t easy in a town like Montepulciano, but we found some great food nonetheless.

Montepulciano

You won’t want to miss the wine cellars of Montepulciano and surrounding areas. I was absolutely fascinated by Contucci.

According to the Contucci website, it’s likely that the Contucci family was living in Montepulciano by the year 1,000. . .

Visiting the cellar is quite the experience. You just keep going down, down, down many flights of stairs to find gigantic wine barrels. An added bonus: on an extremely hot Tuscan day, the cellar is delightfully cold and a break from the baking sun!

Contucci Winery

We merely got a taste of Montepulciano and would absolutely love to visit again to cover the history, food, wine, and amazing views for longer.

As I mentioned above, the reason for our visit was a wedding, and the location of the ceremony was Cortona, inside its beautiful Cortona Cathedral. Cortona and its surroundings were definite favorites on this trip; I still have one last winery post to write, so stay tuned!

Cortona Cathedral

Our final day trip during our week in Italy was to Arezzo. Again, it was a group trip, and finding parking for multiple cars was a bit of a challenge. We actually almost gave up and returned to our villa!

Arezzo, Italy

Once we found parking, we didn’t have a ton of time to explore, but we did get to see some great views and cute shops. Truffles are king in the region, and I enjoyed some truffle potato chips while wanting to buy everything in sight. The intoxicating smell of truffles filled the air!

Arezzo, Italy

As one does on a hot day in Tuscany, we stopped at a cute patio for refreshments; mine was a cold glass of local white wine with a great view of the surrounding square.

Arezzo, Italy

There are definitely lots of moments in Italy where sitting outside enjoying local wine is just all you need.

Arezzo, Italy

Arezzo, Italy

Arezzo offered beautiful architecture, and while we planned to visit its famous cathedral, our parking issues made us miss opening hours! Perhaps this post is a guide on how NOT to travel?

Instead we enjoyed the great outdoors and explored where the film Life is Beautiful was made.

Arezzo, Italy

Even reading about the movie made me cry!

Life is Beautiful Arezzo

Have you seen it? I think I have watched it at least three or four times, and it is heart wrenching every single time. I actually did not know that Arezzo was the setting of the movie, but it made me love this town even more.

Arezzo, Italy

After some shopping and taking in Arezzo’s scenery, we needed to get back to the villa for our final night’s dinner and one last sunset in Umbria.

Arezzo, Italy

And that sunset over the vineyards did not disappoint!

sunset in Umbria

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Tags: Arezzo, Italy, Montepulciano, Travel, travel blog, Tuscany, Umbria, wine, wine cellar

That time has come; I think I have officially run out of content from the girls’ getaway to Sonoma County that I took in September. We had so much fun spending a few days wine tasting, eating, and laughing hysterically, all the components of a good getaway with friends!

We rented a house on Mark West Springs Road in Santa Rosa, up a very long and at times winding road. Much of that area was affected by the wildfires in October, and we are still unsure about the house, which was amazing.

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We toasted with bubbles on the deck overlooking gorgeous views and spied deer grazing out our windows.

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It was just the most perfectly serene spot; this insomniac even managed to sleep well! I loved grabbing a cup of coffee and looking out the window in the mornings or sitting on the deck, even when a bit chilly. The location made it a little difficult to get to and from, but overall it was an incredibly special and relaxing place.

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In addition to the deliciousness we enjoyed at Bravas Tapas and Bird and the Bottle, we also chowed down on the new menu at Woodfour Brewing Company, which features delish tacos and great beers, the perfect post-wine tasting lunch.

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Our final dinner in Sonoma County was at the much-loved Valette in Healdsburg; I’d head so much about it that we had to go, and we rolled out of there after courses of deliciousness.

Vallette

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As Valette’s website notes, they feature local winemakers, artisans, and farmers, and when it comes to Sonoma County, local is definitely best.

As Sonoma and Napa recover from the fires, they are also more than ready to welcome visitors. If you get the chance, it’s a great time to enjoy all of the amazingness that wine country has to offer this year!

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Tags: Food, Sonoma County, travel blog, travel blogging, wine

Did you discover any favorite new restaurants in 2017? With an ever-changing and growing restaurant scene in Boston, it’s hard to keep up, and while we definitely tried some amazing new spots (Yellow Door Taqueria, The Industry, and Reel House were all big hits!) we were also repeat visitors at established favorites.

I also rediscovered spots I hadn’t been to in a while like Doretta Taverna in Boston’s Park Square area.

I recently got together with a group of friends at Doretta to sample some of their most popular menu items, and I was reminded that I could eat there everyday and be perfectly happy.

Doretta has GREAT cocktails, and I regret that a work call came in as I was enjoying a beautiful and spicy Medusa’s Locks gin cocktail. I never got a chance to take a photo!

Doretta Boston

Everything I have eaten at Doretta is incredible, but as a big chip and dip fan, I could eat their zucchini chips and tzatziki all day long.

Doretta Boston

Of course, I would save room for their perfectly cooked, tender and lemony grilled octopus and a tasting of yummy spreads like my favorite Beet Pantzarosalata, a heavenly beet and yogurt blend. . . a healthy dip!

Doretta Boston

I normally pass on lamb, but even I had to have a bite of these lamb meatballs which are a big hit with Doretta guests. The cumin tomato sauce is definitely something you want to save and savor with your extra pita!

Doretta Boston

Lobster is obviously a New England favorite, and the Lobster Loukomades take it to a whole new level, with herb donuts, brown butter, and pops of flavor in the form of caviar. Yum.

Doretta Boston

I was *almost* too full to try this beautiful shrimp dish, which had hints of sweetness from honey and shredded pastry kattaifi. I loved the crunch that it added too!

From the presentation down to the last bite, each plate we were served was perfect.

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Doretta also has a really impressive and different wine list, especially for wines by the glass. I love that the list includes wines from Greece, in addition to places like Austria and Mendocino County California. It’s definitely not your standard wine list, and for someone who loves to try new wines, this is a huge selling point.

Since Doretta is consistently excellent and a sort of central location for friends coming from all areas around Boston, it’s the perfect place to meet.

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Tags: Boston, cocktails, Dining out, Food, food blog, Greek, Restaurants, wine

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