This month, American Express Travel has asked us to contribute to their #Journeymakers campaign in an effort to encourage travelers to acknowledge and thank those special people that have made their journeys unforgettable. In our first blog reflecting on #Journeymakers, we shared about Moroni, the lovable bellhop from Panama City. Today we're featuring Martina, a delightful hotel manager from our most recent stay in Pienza, Italy.
When beginning to plan our Italian adventure, our hope was to get beyond the touristy areas - which can be extremely hard to do in the summer! We knew that we wanted to spend time in Rome and Florence, but we also had the desire to explore the countryside of Italy as well. We decided the best way to do this was to rent a car in Rome, meander our way through Tuscany, and then head to Florence. Looking back, we are SO thankful we did! We made our way from Rome to Pienza, an incredible medieval hilltop town in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany. We arrived at our small boutique hotel and met Martina, the bubbly manager who got us all settled into our room. She asked what our plans were during our stay in Pienza, and we told her that we wanted to experience the local culture. She immediately mentioned a nearby restaurant that we must try for dinner, and jumped at the chance to plan our next day for us. While we were a little reluctant to have her plan out our full day (we enjoy a little flexibility - and isn't planning part of the fun?), her smile and excitement were all the convincing we needed! Trusting Martina with our day was completely solidified a few hours later when we were dining with the locals at the delicious Tuscan restaurant she recommended.
While we were eating breakfast the next morning, Martina approached our table with the biggest grin, letting us know that she had arranged a wine tasting at a small winery in a rural nearby town, AND a private wine tour and lunch at one of her favorite local biodynamic wineries. This sounded great to us!
At the first winery, we enjoyed some wonderful Brunello and even better views of the rolling landscape. Next, we took a windy dirt road about thirty minutes into the Tuscan hills. We eventually came upon Piombaia, a small biodynamic winery. We were greeted by Roberto and his wife, and noticed we were the only people there. Roberto gave us a tour of the winery, explained what life is like as a biodynamic farmer, and shared the history of his family (Seven generations of his family have operated this winery). He then sat us down in a picturesque little dining room, and he and his wife proceeded to feed us an authentic 5 course meal. EVERYTHING we ate was grown at their farm and made in their kitchen... Even the olive oil! It was absolutely incredible, and we spent a good amount of the time laughing and pinching ourselves over the experience. Here we were at this tiny winery enjoying superb Italian meal. In the moment we didn’t feel like tourists. We felt as if we were just visitors or friends of Roberto and his wife. It was an absolutely dreamy afternoon!
We returned to our boutique hotel and found Martina, who was eager to hear how our day was. We shared all about our experiences and thanked her for all she had done for us. While Martina could have directed us towards the big name places where all the tour buses go, she took the time to create an experience for us that was unique and authentic. And for that reason, Martina is a journeymaker that we will NEVER forget!
*Sponsorship Note: This post was created in partnership with @AmericanExpress Travel celebrating their 100th year anniversary through the #Journeymakers campaign. Share your Journeymaker story here. All content, words and ideas are our own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that allow us to create and maintain original content for this blog.