For the Love of Wine

Our first activity when we reached the wine country was perfectly fitting, a tour then a wine tasting. At 11 a.m., everyone piled out of the buses and walked into the Museo del Vino in the small village of Castiglione in Teverina. The owners gave a presentation on the history of the museum, what we would see and how they’ve made their wines into an international sensation.

We began the tour of the museum through the huge wine cellars distributed among 6 floors, two above ground and 4 under ground. The cellars have been out of use for 15 years and refurbished into a museum for wine lovers to visit from all over the world. Walking through the alleyways you could observe the tangible tools used by employees and read stories of the production of the wines in the early 1900’s. They sold everything from your red and white wines to sparkling wines and vermouth to oil and vinegar. We continued with the tour until we reached the museums museum’s most prized feature, the biggest wine barrel in the world. Let me tell you, this thing was huge! They even had multiple ladders just to climb to the top of it.

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The tour ended and we were brought into a cafeteria with each placemat having 2 wine glasses and a plastic cup for water. The tour guides explained how to properly perform a wine tasting by twirling the cup to get the wine moving in the glass, smelling it then taking a sip and letting the wine reach every spot of your tongue. The first wine they poured for us was the house rosé served with rice, beans and bread. It was a pretty pink blush color and tasted very sweet.

Next, was the house white served with all different types of cheeses. The white tasted a little flavorful than the rosé and seemed to have a hint of citrus flavor. However, next was the red, which was definitely my favorite (not to mention it was served with an assortment of salami). It was a little tart but delicious and was probably the strongest of the three wines.

After boarding the bus again we departed for a thermal bath in the countryside. About an hour ride away we reached the spa and resort. The sun was starting to set and everyone threw on their bathing suits and headed to the naturally heated outdoor pools. As soon as we got to the pool area, the overbearing smell of sulfur and rotten eggs filled our noses (that was the only downside to this activity). When our noses finally adjusted to the smell, we all got in. It was warm but not too hot and as I squished my toes on the floor, I could feel the sulfur residue that felt like sand in between my toes. We spent about two hours there, then headed to our hotel for the night.

The next morning we departed for Siena, which I soon realized was my favorite stop on the entire trip. Having freedom to explore the small town, we walked through the small alleys of the streets, stopping in stores and small shops. We went to the Torre del Mangia located in the Piazza del Campo. The Torre del Mangia is a huge tower in the center of Siena built in the 1300s with a view at the top that overlooks the entire town. After climbing the 400 plus steps, we finally reached the top. It was a cloudy and rainy day, but that didn’t negate the beauty of the panoramic view whatsoever. After we walked across the piazza to grab a cappuccino, we continued exploring the town. We wandered into a vintage shop with the most beautiful jewelry and a chocolate shop that sold chocolate pasta! Having a huge sweet tooth, I bought two bags.

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Hearing about the famous panini joint, Gino Cacino di Angelo, we had no problems choosing where to go for lunch. Barely being able to see the door behind the plants and vines overtaking the front patio, we sat down in the small, beautifully designed restaurant. Getting a complimentary glass of red wine from the chef, we ordered our sandwiches and a small dish of pasta with pesto. Ten minutes later, he brought out the sandwiches that were probably the size of my face! Salami, ricotta cheese and some sort of delicious sauce (I cant exactly remember the name) was placed on the thick fluffy bread and heated. After finishing and feeling more than pleased with our meals, we headed over to see the Siena Cathedral.

I couldn’t help but think that the outside of the church was the most gorgeous design and architecture I have ever seen, until we went inside. With the black and white stripes on the pillars with the gold trimmings and marble ceiling, this was undoubtedly the most stunning church I had ever been in. The stained glass windows and the quite whispers filling the air just added to the overall peaceful aura. We spent a little over an hour taking in every inch and aspect of the church until we had to get on the bus to depart back to Rome, but of course, stopping for some gelato first.

Kelsey Maloney is a student at the University of Rhode Island and an official API Student Blogger. Kelsey is studying abroad with API in Rome, Italy.

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