Wine Country Blog: innsights to the wine Country


Posted by Joe Bartolomei on July 19, 2014

Tuscany2Love Letters from Italy (our second favorite wine country)

If you follow us on Facebook you may have noticed that Farmhouse Inn recently spent some time abroad. Last month we were in Italy; basking in the glow of sunshine, strolling through vineyards and olive groves, and gazing at beautiful old villas perched on the hillsides. While we were officially there to work (we know, we couldn’t believe it either), we didn’t waste a minute of the 2 weeks we had. 

There is something truly special about Italy. As we meandered through Italy’s historic villages, we were reminded of why artists have been depicting this part of the world as utopic for centuries. The light, the food, the people- they all come together to create an experience that is evocative and compelling. We thought we’d highlight some of the moments from our trip.


Swiss Alps



We arrived in Milan via New York. As we were flying to Milan we passed over the Swiss Alps- not a bad beginning to the trip. Our first destination and the reason for our visit, was Castello di Casole. Casole is located just south of Florence and right between Milan and Rome. The Castello di Casole Estate has a rich history dating back to 3000 B.C. - its proximity to the Elsa River made it a desirable location for many farmers, especially for those growing wheat, corn, olives and grapes.

We were fortunate enough to have been selected as a partner hotel in one of Castello’s Eat and Drink Experience Packages. In addition to our families, we also brought over Farmhouse Chef Steve Litke and Master Sommelier Geoff Kruth. Over 5 days we enjoyed tours of Siena, wine tastings with vignerons, cooking classes with chefs, and yes we’ll admit, some time by the pool. Castello’s rooms, hospitality and amazing location all made for a great 5 days. We hope to one day have some of their team visit us at Farmhouse Inn, and if you were able to join us in Casole, we hope to see you stateside soon!

Castello di Casole


Lago di GardaAfter our last breakfast on Casole’s beautiful terrace it was on to Lago di Garda. Lago di Garda is the largest lake in Italy and is just outside of Verona, a city made famous by Shakespeare's “Romeo and Juliet”. Traveling with a Chef in Italy is both a curse and a blessing- he knows the best places to eat but by the end of the trip our pants were feeling just a little too tight. We enjoyed meals that included the freshest sardines, lamb chops from a local farm, wines from Lugana and beautiful desserts. One of many outstanding meals was at Ristorante Aquariva. Aquariva’s menu is full of the freshest seafood- everything from squid to croaker fish fill up the menu (fun fact: croakers get their name from the sound they make when they make when they pop their heads above the water).

Lago di GardaWhile much of our time in Garda was spent eating, we did take a day out to boat on the lake- our stomachs were thankful for the break. Traveling with 5 kids, all under the age of 10, in a foreign country was an adventure (to say the least), however they did incredibly well- they’re mini-foodies in the making. The lake, artwork, and scenic balconies of Gardo all feel like they could be a part of an elaborate movie set. The small back alleys and people ground you in a city just waiting for George Clooney to come and film a new “Ocean’s Eleven” movie. We can’t wait to go back.

We’ve been home for a few weeks now and we can’t believe how similar parts of California’s wine country are to Tuscany- being away reminded us of the beauty and history in our own backyard. Many of the photos are courtesy of our Chef Steve, but you can find more of them on the Farmhouse Pinterest Boards. To see photos of our latest jaunts around Sonoma, and the world, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Topics: Sonoma, wine country, Farmhouse Inn, restaurant, Castello di Casole, Lago di Garda, Best Hotel, Italy, California

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What would be better than good wine, good company, amazing s’mores, and a cozy fire?  I can’t think of anything else I would want!  Joey and I really enjoyed the nostalgia of roasting and toasting the marshmallows over the fire!  It definitely took me back to my childhood and I had no shame in having two of them!  I couldn’t help it!.continue