The Mini, some wine, and more photos from Tuscany

POSTED IN : Casa de Youngren

Starving, anxious, and exhausted, Jeff lurched our rental Mini Cooper into the grocery store’s parking lot with me, carsick and slightly panicked, in the passenger seat. The tiny spaces and narrow lanes stared back at us, along with two old women, as Jeff desperately tried to balance the clutch and gas pedal. We prayed for an easy spot to pull into, but only found a tiny space halfway down the row. I death gripped the e-handle, Jeff worked the clutch, slammed it into second, squealed around the corner, and lurched violently between the two cars, throwing us forward and stalling the engine in one swift move. Jeff gallantly hopped out of the car, threw his scarf confidently around his neck, and saw the two old ladies staring in confusion and shock at the Americans in the Mini Cooper.

“What? Its my first time driving stick!” he yelled. As the ladies turned and scattered away, we burst into laughter that we had become “those Americans” that just had to have the ultimate Italian experience in our Mini Cooper. Because, c’mon, who hasn’t seen the Italian Job?

Jeff actually did a fabulous job driving our stick shift rental, so I have to give him a lot of credit. I can’t even get a stick shift to move! Our little Mini drove us over 1,000 kilometers through the regions of Tuscany, and I just wanted to share some our favorite travel and fine art images. Enjoy!

A park in Arezzo

Arezzo church

Duomo in Florence at twilight

View from the top of the Duomo in Florence

Florence streets at dusk

Our favorite restaurant, Trattoria Anita,  located in Florence! Thanks Jamie Lawler for the awesome recommendation!

Cortona evening

View from the city walls in Cortona

Walking up to the cathedral in Cortona

Our bed and breakfast, Casa Chilenne, in Cortona run by Jeanette, Luciano and their cute puppy Carlotta! We had a fabulous time and would recommend this place to anyone visiting Tuscany!

Driving to Montepulciano

The wine town of Montepulciano

Visiting the wine cellars of Cantine Contucci in Montepulciano

Some of the best wine that we had in Italy was the Vino Nobile at the Contucci winery. These two bottles of wine are the only souveneirs that we brought home from our trip! I was so excited!

Without Rick Steves, we never would have known about the Contucci winery, much less find it. You had to go down an alley off of the main square and knock on the big brown door! Ha!

Jeff and this old man sat and laughed while they watched this cat for about five minutes. Oh boys…

Hill town of Pienza on our way to Montalcino. One of our favorite towns.

See the sheep in the distance? And that dirt road? Yeah, we drove down that.

Sunset at Montalcino after tasting its famous Brunello wine. Perfect day and perfect trip.

I only have one more short post featuring our three days in Rome so stay tuned!




Hi there! We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren, a hubby and wifey wedding photography team in San Diego. We shoot together. We travel together. We dream together. And we believe the best thing to hold onto in life is each other (+ a great glass of wine…)


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We’re Jeff and Erin Youngren, a hubby and wifey team that photographs amazing couples and their incredible weddings. Hopeless romantics, BFF's, and mama + daddy to James, we’re obsessed with traveling, podcasts, Oreos (Erin) and whiskey (Jeff).