Archive for the ‘Things to Do’ Category

The Medici Fortress at the top of the hill above Cortona is worth a visit in it’s own right, if not just for spectacular views, you can see Il Pino with a good camera lens on a clear day.

They also have art and other exhibitions on, this year they have installed a multimedia exhibition on life in the Val di Chiana, which is worth dropping in to see. There are lots of old photos from the last century of the local way of life juxtaposed with photos of modern life in the valley with the same communities, fascinating to see how much and how little has changed and you don’t need to speak Italian to understand or appreciate it.

There are some excellent historical itineraries of art and castles and fortresses in the valley which are up on display alongside short films which give you an idea of the little known treasures to be found in the area around Il Pino.



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The Avignonesi vineyard has produced many award winning and famous wines, including their Vin Santo which is rated among the top three “desert” wines in the world. Several of the wine conoscenti here at Il Pino have tried and bought Avignonesi wines and have recommended them so we decided to do a tour and tasting at their Fattoria Le Cappezzine vineyard which is only 15 mins drive from Il Pino, near Centoia.

We were not disappointed, for €35 we were given a two hour knowledgeable and interesting tour of the cellars and vines and tasted four of their wines including their Vino Nobile and Desiderio Merlot. We decided at the last minute to have lunch at the vineyards restaurant which was €50 a head but included 4 wines, three courses (with organic produce from their garden) and coffee, on their beautiful terrace, and the service was excellent. Although there was no discount for lunch for non drinking drivers they very kindly waived the tour and tasting fee for all of us when we bought cases of their wine as well!


You can buy their superstar wines for your cellar if that’s what gets your cork out but they have good quality affordable wines for the dinner table as well.

In all it was a lovely leisurely well organised day out with the added bonus of some great wines to take home and we thoroughly recommend it. Take a good map though, it’s not easy to find.They advise you to book for their tour and or tasting as they limit the numbers.

Ph: 0578 724304


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Poliziano is one of the more well known wines to come from this part of Tuscany, you can find it on the menu at Pizza Express and at Majestic Wines. Don’t assume that well known equals mediocre however. The award winning reds are worthy of any dinner party table and the Asinone, made from the sangiovese grape, is especially good. After a tour of the vineyard and a tasting we bought a case of the Asinone and a case of the white Ambrae, named after the title of a poem by the Italian poet Poliziano from which the vineyard takes its name, which makes nice everyday company for fish or chicken. We also bought their Vin Santo which was pricey but excellent.

The vineyard is about 15mins drive from Il Pino and worthwhile visiting . If you want a tour and a tasting, ring and book ahead as they restrict the numbers on each tour and tasting. When we went we were in the company of a restauranteur from Boston US and his family, who was looking at Poliziano wines to make up his wine list, so people seek this place out from much further afield than Il Pino! http://www.carlettipoliziano.com/eng/azienda_montepulciano.php?id_menu=2


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Alessandra runs Tuscan cooking classes in Cortona on Saturdays. It is a day class, the morning is spent in the market where she gives you top tips on good places to buy your ingredients and your learn about the food, like the steak sides in the butchers being labelled as to the cow they came from, where it was born and raised and when it was slaughtered.  Students, not the best word for a bunch of people drinking a lot of wine and having a laugh, then cook their lunch and eat it together. My husband went with two mates and learnt how to make pasta, ragú, roast potatoes in rosemary (yum), insalata di bresaola con rucola, tiramisu (it is a sin worthy of imprisonment in Italy to put cream as well as marscapone in it), and other dishes. They all enjoyed their day and went home with a book of the recipes of the dishes they made so I’m still enjoying the fruits of his “lesson” and Alessandra was great fun.  http://www.il-girasole.com/cooking.htm

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From Nicola:

Circular Walks in Tuscany & Umbria
I have found a website where you can download for free detailed directions for a circular walk around Cortona plus others:
I haven’t tried this yet, but the more energetic of you might like to try!

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From Aurora:

What to do during raining days : Visit the Perugina chocolate factory in Perugia (Nestlé group)
There is a Museum and a factory tour as well as a gift store
Address : Perugia San Sisto, Exit Madonna Alta on the speedway to Perugia
Monday to Friday : 8h30/13h-14h/17h30
Call to book for visit of the factory
Tel : 0755276796
(40 min from Il Pino)

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Wine tasting and dinner at Osteria del Teatro 2011  by Jenny

Molesini in Cortona has organised free wine tasting events outside his Enoteca in Piazza Republica. Later on there is also a set meal and the wines you have tasted at Osteria del Teatro if you want.
We went on 12th May and tasted Talenti Montalcino wines. The vineyard owner and Marco Molesini were also at the meal and gave a brief talk. The meal was excellent as were the wines which we were tempted to purchase. The meal cost 40 Euros all inclusive.
The free winetasting starts at 17:00 and you can arrive anytime, we went about 19:00 as the meal was at 20:30. It is a good idea to go as a group as you may guess it get booked quickly by tour operators.
This is the list of dates for the rest of this year and the wines.
14th July                                                    Venica & Venica
8th September                                         Siro Pacenti Montalcino
15th September                                      Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco
22nd September                                     Brancaia
29th September                                      Leuta Cortona
6th October                                              Bertani Amarone
13th October                                           Ciacci Piccolomini Montacino

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