Tuscany is filled with the most charming villages, and Montecarlo is definitely one of them. It is a walled city, very common in Medieval towns across Italy. Our home base in Tuscany was in Uzzano, and Montecarlo happened to be the closest town for restaurant options. The untarnished historic centre is surrounded by magnificent defensive walls even today. If you walk the circuit of the walls, you will see the surviving three of the original fifteen city gates. One of my favorite things about walled towns, is you can’t drive in them, so you park on the outskirts and walk in, this makes the towns that much more charming.
We came to Montecarlo many times throughout our stay, there were some lovely shops, stunning views, and a great selection of restaurants. One evening we happened upon the most magical festival, the whole main street of the village was lined with a dining table stretching from end to end. Italians filled the tables, wine flowed, songs were sung, and food was carried down the length of the tables on doors! While we were walking the streets, a group of Italians began to sing the most beautiful song, the way their voices carried and bounced off the city walls made it sound like angels were singing.
Where to eat: If you have the opportunity, you must dine at Osteria del Vecchio Olivo, this was by far our favorite restaurant in Montecarlo. Dinner was to die for. This was a fancier restaurant, but still dinner for 2 adults was 65 Euro. We has 1 Anitpasti, 2 Primi, 2 Secondi, 2 Desserts, 2 bottles of Acqua, one bottle of Vini, and 2 caffe. The prices of the food were unbelievable, Tuscany like all of Italy has such amazing food, the ingredients and love put into every dish really do shine through.
In Montecarlo we also dined at Ristorante Carlo, where I enjoyed linguine with clams and a truffle sauce. Trattoria Montecarlo was great for a quick lunch, we sat outside which is always my favorite, I had a simple pasta with a fresh tomato sauce, it was divine! I shopped at Puccini Arte, the store was filled with handmade treasures.
In the surrounding area where are many wineries, offering tours and tastings. I much prefer the smaller wineries over the larger commercialized ones, where tour buses don’t visit and the experiences are more intimate. We were able to arrange ours at three wineries, and what amazing experiences they were!
Tenuta del Buonamico, was our first stop, it was built up and very modern, but was very low key when we visited, I could definitely see it being very busy on weekends. We did a wine tasting, and were the only ones there!
- Spumante Particolare Brute Rose
- Viognier IGT Toscano
- Spumante Particolare Brut
- Spumante Particolare Inedito
- Cercatoja IGT Toscano
- Il Fortino IGT Toscano
Fattoria Carmignani, run by Elena, offered a very intimate winery experience. Elena gave us a tour of the family farm, where they produce extra virgin olive oils and a great selection of wine blends. It was a very small winery, and Elena was a bit disorganized but everything was amazing and I highly recommend a visit if you find yourself in Montecarlo. The whole experience was 30 Euro, (I think it is now 50 Euro), and lasted 1.5 hours. I bought an olive oil, and shipped 6 wines back to the states. Elena offers many different wine tastings, be sure to check out her website, and make a reservation.
We opted for the light lunch tasting, open our arrival we were taken on a tour of the vineyards, where we learned about their cultivation techniques, and the diversity of grapes for the production of their wine. Re received a welcome glass of their Montecarlo Bianco D.O.C, which was so lovely I sent 6 bottles home! We tasted the 8/9 wines that she produces and also tasted the olive oils. Elena paired the wines with a combination with typical dishes of the territory, extra virgin olive oil with various types of Altopascio (cereal bread with saffron and corn flour, with turmeric, chestnut flour), bruschetta with tomato, crouton of the farm typical, Tuscan salami and Tuscan pecorino, tasting of typical local pasta, ricotta and honey, dessert typical of the area. Everything was delicious.
- Urano Sauvignon Toscana IGT (100% Sauvignon Blanc)
- Montecarlo Bianco DOC (50% Trebbiano, 10% Semillon, 10% Roussanne, 10% Vermentino, 10% Malvasia Bianca, 10% Sauvignon, 10% Chardonnay)
- Kapogiro Rosè Toscana IGT (35% Syrah, 35% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot)
Tentazione Chardonnay Toscana IGT (85%Chardonnay, 15%Pinot Grigio)
Intrigo Chardonnay Toscana IGT (100% Chardonnay – Affinamento in barrique di acacia ungherese ), providing it is available
- Montecarlo Rosso DOC (50% Sangiovese, 10% Marlavsia Rossa, 10% Canaiolo, 10% Ciliegiolo, 10% Merlot, 10% Syrah)
- Theorema Toscana IGT (30% Merlot, 30% Syrah, 30% Cabernet, 10% Sangiovese – Affinamento in barrique per 18 mesi )
- Vin Santo DOC (90% Trebbiano, 10% Colombana)
- Vino Aleatico Toscana IGT (100% Aleatico)
Fattoria Maionchi, was a very special place. Our tour was done by a very lovely young man, the owners son, he was very passionate. The vineyard grounds were originally built by the Russians to be a self sufficient village with a small church and brick mill. We had the most amazing intimate tour of the grounds and the wine cellar. We learned about the different types of wine barrels, there was a very old large walnut barrel on display, to clean it, a small crazy Italian man would go inside and he would come out drunk from the fumes. It was a lovely tour, the son took so much pride in teaching us and in the wines. We tasted 3 wines, followed by the sweet wine with cantuccini.
From here we stopped at a nearby restaurant, highly recommended. Ristorante Diavoletti “Slow Food”, (It looks like it has since closed). I ordered prosciutto as an appetizer and it was a huge serving. For dinner I had a cheese & vegetable baked dish, it was an amazing authentic restaurant. Italy has such amazing food, it is no wonder it is such an important part of their culture.
Getting around Montecarlo: like all of Tuscany, you need a rental car, unless you are with a tour.