Have you always dreamt of flying in a hot air balloon, far above a stunning landscape, and become utterly speechless from the serenity, calmness and awe-inspiring natural beauty of this wonderful planet? Welcome to the club then! Hot air ballooning has always been on our Bucket List, and now we can finally tick it off! You can read all about the experience below. At the end of the post, as a cherry on top, we have included a little video about our whole trip to Tuscany.
It was our first morning in Tuscany, in the beautiful wine region of Chianti. We had slept in a tent, admiring the stars and the rolling hills. Now the sun, ever so slowly, started to light up the campsite. It was just before dawn, with the time yet to pass 5am. The air was still chilly from the night, which helped freshen us up. We weren’t the slightest bit tired though, because we had an exciting day ahead of us.
Hot air balloons require cool air and little wind, so we were destined for an early start. We jumped into our tiny Ferrari-red Fiat 500, the perfect ride for a week-long Tuscan adventure. The sunrise was particularly beautiful this morning, so we pulled over several times for photographs. Good thing we left early.
After a stunning 20-minute ride in-between the vineyards, we reached what was usually a big empty field. It wasn’t quite empty this morning, though, as four big-ass balloons were already in the process of being inflated.
After admiring the glorious sight of the enormous balloons being filled with air, the last few people arrived, and we could jump inside the basket. We were pleasantly surprised that you only share the basket with four to six other people – each in their own little enclosure. We felt, in fact, quite intimate in our own private booth. The sides of the basket hugged us close, and they were tall, so it never felt like we might slip out.
The pilot was standing in the centre of the basket, controlling the “dragon”. Kia thought it was a bit chilly, even when hugging Nick. But when the pilot fires up the dragon, your skin receives just the right amount of heat. The dragon is basically a huge flamethrower. It makes a scary sound, but the radiating heat is much welcome and helps keep you warm, even without a jacket. It also happens to superheat the cold air inside the balloon, making the flight possible. Don’t worry, the dragon is your friend.
As the dragon does its job, the balloon slowly becomes fully inflated, suspended high above your head. Take-off happens shortly after and is entirely undramatic. You smoothly lose contact with the ground but don’t even notice this, until you see it moving farther, and farther away. You are now flying, and you barely even realised it.
Up in the air, time stands still. You follow the direction of the gentle breeze, moving leisurely above the rolling hills of Tuscany. There is no way for the pilot to steer the balloon, so you go where the wind takes you. There is something soothing in that. The beautiful wine racks stand perfectly straight below you, and you are slowly bathed in the warm rays of the rising sun. Everything is in equilibrium. You are as relaxed as ever, and all you can do is enjoy the ride. What a perfect morning.
Everybody in the balloon has the same experience, and all are quietly enjoying the serenity and calm sensation of flying without wings. At this point, you are tucking yourself tightly into the arms of your loved one, as you both just take it all in. You think to yourself: “Everyone should experience this” before you snap a selfie, because hey, it is 2019. The other balloons in the vicinity are particularly photogenic – big round beautiful silhouettes in front of the stunning backdrop of Tuscany.
You enjoy the sight for about an hour in the sky, before it is time to find a place to land. As you come closer and closer to the ground, the balloon appears to speed up. Our pilot had found a big empty field to land on, with tall grass and just a single walnut tree. Narrowly avoiding the big tree, we all went into brace-position. This should ensure we wouldn’t be thrown from the basket in case of a rough landing. As we hit the ground gently, the balloon kept dragging os across the field and it felt like the basket might tip over. It didn’t though, and the entire thing was stress-free. Kia is scared of heights, and Nick has a fear of flying, but throughout the whole experience, we never had even a brief moment of concern.
After awkwardly climbing out of the tall basket, we found ourselves in a dry, knee-high, grass field. The heatwave that had been raging the last couple of weeks had taken its toll on it, yet it was unbelievably beautiful when lit up by the early sunlight
This was the perfect setting for an outdoor breakfast. The pilot and his wife prepared a lovely spread, with home-baked bread, sheep cheese from a local farmer, various Tuscan cold cuts and of course plenty of fruit. We were also poured Italian Prosecco, and it seems the Tuscan way to drink this in the morning is to mix it with a tiny bit of blood orange juice. We’ve never tasted a better mimosa.
After a lovely breakfast in the field, we were driven back to our car and were ready for a full day of exploration. It was still early, but high from the fantastic experience, we had no need for a rest. This morning, we fell in love with Tuscany. We went on to have an absolutely amazing week there, with gorgeous scenery and plenty of mind-blowing food and wine. It will always hold a special place in our big travel-hearts.
The highlight of the trip was the hot air balloon experience, though. It indeed was something exceptional, and we want to highlight again that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Our advice to you is clear: Don’t cheat yourself from this experience. You will not regret taking off!
So that’s it. This was just a small piece about our excellent hot air balloon ride in Tuscany, July 2019. Please let us know if this post has inspired you to put hot air ballooning on your bucket list. You can throw us a comment below, or send a message on your social media channel of choice. Also feel free to send any questions regarding hot air ballooning, Tuscany or travelling in general. We would love to hear from you – so give us a shout!
As promised, here is a little video to round this off, with clips from our entire trip to Tuscany.
Company: Tuscany Ballooning
Location: Chianti, Tuscany
Price: 250 EUR per person
Weight limit: None – but you need to state your weight during booking.