When Sam found one of our hot air balloon rides under the tree at Christmas, he never for a second imagined he would actually be flying under the Tuscan sun this summer.

His fantastic Instagram photo of the family leaping for joy over their amazing gifts was a clear winner in the Virgin Balloon Flights #UnwrapAnAdventure festive competition of a trip for two to Tuscany.

He and his cousin Harry flew out to Italy in June, where they stayed in a traditional Tuscan hotel in Tuscany before waking up early for their sunrise flight with our sister company, Ballooning In Tuscany.

Instaworthy Views

“I’ve travelled to some picturesque places but few as magnificent as the Tuscany valleys and vineyards surrounding Montisi,” said Sam.

“In terms of places to go in a hot air balloon, this has to be up there with the best.

“The highlight for me was definitely taking off as the sun rose over the valleys – it was so awesome and scenic.

“There were so many opportunities for great photos, and for an ‘Instamaniac’ like me, this was just perfect.

“Although I suspect Harry’s highlight was the morning Champagne breakfast with croissants.”

Sam and his girlfriend had their balloon ride vouchers bought for them by his (clearly awesome!) aunt.

“We saw in the box the opportunity to win a trip to do the flight in Tuscany, and as neither of us had been to Italy, naturally we went for it, not thinking for a second we would have a chance of winning something as amazing as that.

“When I found out we’d won the competition, I literally leapt from my seat to speak to firstly my girlfriend and secondly my aunt – we were so giddy and excited!

“Almost as giddy as my cousin Harry was when Mary said she couldn’t go and that he could take her place!”

Under The Tuscan Sun

And even though both Sam and Harry had some slight concerns that a balloon ride could be ‘too romantic’ to share with a cousin, they said that wasn’t the case at all.

“3,000 feet up with views like that, and it’s just amazing whoever you are flying with.

“I would definitely recommend a balloon flight to anyone looking for a truly memorable time, whether you’re a couple or cousins.”

Sam also said that the Ballooning in Tuscany team, headed up by pilot Nic, his wife Annie, and their son Harri, were amazing.

As well as his Instagram feed being filled with photos from his Tuscany trip and flight, Sam also put together some videos for YouTube from the balloon ride under the Tuscan sun.

Now Sam and Harry both have their sights set on another balloon ride here in the UK with Virgin Balloon Flights.