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Our Three Best Kept Travel Secrets

We love to travel and we love Europe, so as you can guess, our Best Kept Travel Secrets are Europe-Focused.

Panzano in Chianti

A few years ago, we came across Panzano in Chianti, a tiny Tuscan town with few tourist sights, but with some great places to eat and drink. If you are a foodie, you may have heard of its famous butcher, if not, here’s the scoop:

The town is  built upon a long, narrow street. At the far end is the Church of Santa Maria which was completely renovated more than 100 years ago. Dario, His wife and fatherAt the other end of the town is the Antica Macelleria Cecchini, a butcher shop owned by master butcher (and showman) Dario Cecchini. He descends from a long line of butchers and has recreated an antique-style macelleria on the site of the family shop which was destroyed during the war. He is an excellent cook, and has done a lot to promote Panzano and traditional Italian food. His shop is a tourist attraction as well as a place to buy unusual cuts of fresh and prepared meats. When you arrive, if you can get past the mob at the door, you will be offered a sample of fine Chianti wine from Dario’s own vineyard, as well as samples of his sausage, olive oil, bread, “tuscan butter” and whatever he is offering that day. People come from all over to taste his meat and porchetta.

Dario has also opened a restaurant, Solociccio, that serves several courses of, you guessed it, meat. The dinners are  served family style at tables seating 12. It is open for two seatings Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 7 to 9 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m.; Sundays, 1 to 3 p.m. Reservations highly recommended.
Via Chiantigiana 5
Panzano in Chianti

Owners of Enoteca BaldiDirectly across the street is a wonderful wine bar, Enoteca Baldi, where we enjoyed a great lunch and a nice visit with the friendly owners.
Piazza Bucciarelli, 25, Panzano in Chianti; 011-39-055-852-843

Market Day
Panzano in Chianti hosts a well attended market every Sunday morning until 1 pm in the main square (Piazza Bucciarelli). You’ll find flowers, vegetables, cheese, fruit, roasted chicken, clothes, hardware and more. All shops in Panzano in Chianti are open on Sunday until 1 p.m.

Vino al Vino
This  wine festival is held on the third weekend in September  in the main square of Panzano (Piazza Bucciarelli). Wine from many of the Panzano wineries is available for sampling and you will surely enjoy the  fine, festive atmosphere accompanied by live music on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
-Terri Fogarty

Erfurt, Germany

Charming_ErfurtHave you heard of Erfurt, Germany? We hadn’t until doing a tour of Germany a couple of years ago. Erfurt is a beautiful, culturally rich city, set smack dab in the center of Germany. The capital of Germany’s Thuringia region, Erfurt boasts one of the best preserved historic centers in Germany. The old town is built around the Dom Platz, a huge square dominated by the Cathedral of  St. Mary ( Mariendom) and the St. Severus Dom Platz _ErfurtChurch (Severi-Kirche), a former Benedictine Abbey. The Rathaus (City Hall)  is located on Fischmarkt square and is really worth touring. The interior is decorated with historical frescoes depicting the lives of Martin Luther (who lived in Erfurt for awhile)  and others. And the Anger Museum, partially closed for restoration at this time, houses a collection of important German paintings.

While we spent a full two-plus days in this charming, historically significant city, we were not able to see and do all that we want. We only scratched the surface and look forward to a return visit to Erfurt.
– Terri Fogarty

Cerbere, France

hiking_on_cliffOn our way back to the Netherlands from a trip to Spain, my friend and I narrowly missed our connecting train in Cerbere, France (Languedoc Roussillon region). All we wanted to do was get home, but the next train wasn’t for a few hours. Tired and disoriented, we wandered towards the sparkling blue water that caught our eye beyond the train tracks. Always up for an adventure, we decided to follow a narrow trail etched into the side of a cliff along the shallow water, which to our surprise, led to a stunning little cove resembling a small lagoon. It was a gorgeous day, and after cerbere_waterswimming in the cove we picnicked on some sunny rocks. Munching on fresh sandwiches, we smiled at each other as we realized that missing our train was surely worth this delightful detour.
– Mike Coletta

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