Itineraries in Tuscany: Chianti.
Among Florence, Siena and Arezzo there is an area whose name is even more famous than the region itself. This is the reason why Just-Tuscany.com has decided to offer several villas precisely in this area.
Chianti is probably the second or third word that comes to mind when thinking about Tuscany, that’s because it’s the name of the most famous Italian wine of all times. The region that hosts the vineyards whose red vines are used to create this iconic red is located between the provinces of Florence, Siena and Arezzo, but its borders are far from being clear.
The hills of Chianti are a small mountain chain in central Tuscany, Southwest of Florence.
From a historical perspective Chianti is the name of a territory shared by three towns, Gaiole, Radda and Castellina, once known as the Chianti league, then as Chianti province and nowadays part of the province of Siena. In 1932 the area has been extended to territories inside the province of Florence to create the area that today we call Chianti Classico. In time then many among the adjacent territories have been included creating a wider region divided into 8 different areas.
A tour of the wineries is the obvious suggestion about what to do around here, but be warned, reservation is needed almost anywhere. Just driving around the countryside can be a unique experience, looking at a landscape made of hills and vineyards, old farms, Romanesque little churches and beautiful villas built during the Renaissance.
Roaming across the vineyards
You can plan a road trip of Chianti or day trips during your stay. If you’re in Florence you can book a bike tour on www.ibiketuscany.com, that will also provide you the transport from the city to the Chianti area; or you can get to Greve in Chianti and rent a bike there at Ramuzzi’s in Via Italo Stecchi 23.
Greve in Chianti. 26 km South of Florence, the town of Greve is the main centre of Northern Chianti and the cornerstone of the wine production of the area. The best time to visit the town is early September, when the Wine Fest takes place, but you might have to book a few months in advance if you want to get an accommodation nearby. Pay a vist to Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti, a huge wine shop that features more than 1200 different bottles and offers wine tasting sessions. The Cantina belongs to Falorni family, the most important family in Greve who created also the wine museum of the town and owns the Antica Macelleria Falorni, the charming butcher shop in the central square. The Macelleria, founded in 1729, is famous for its finocchiona briciolona (pork salami with fennel seeds and flavoured with Chianti wine): this is the perfect place to get all you need for a pic-nic in the countryside!
Montefioralle. A narrow street departs from Greve and leads to this little medieval hamlet, birthplace of Amerigo Vespucci. Pay attention if you decide to go by bike: the road is extremely steep but it’s worth the effort, you’ll be rewarded with a breath-taking landscape along the way.
Badia a Passignano. An old 11th century abbey 6 km away from Montefioralle that belongs to the Antinori family, one of the most known wine producers of the area, and hosts a wonderful fifteenth-century fresco painted by Domenico and Davide Ghirlandaio portraying the last supper. If you want to take the guided tour you’ll have the chance to buy combo tickets that will allow you to join a tasting session at Antinori’s winery followed by lunch (or dinner) at the osteria. You can also book a tour of the vineyards or a tour of the winery on www.osteriadipassignano.com/en.
Castello di Verrazzano. The castle, once house to the fifteen-century explorer Giacomo Verrazzano, is today the seat of the Castello di Verrazzano winery.
You can visit the estate choosing one of the four tours offered, that include visits to the cellar and to the yards, wine tastings, local food specialties tastings, or a full meal. As usual take our advice and book your tour in advance, more detailed informations are available on www.verrazzano.com.
Castellina in Chianti. Go South, entering the province of Siena, to visit the town of Castellina, founded by the Etruscans and then fortified by the Medici during the 15th century. Along with Greve this is one of the main centres of local wine production: if you want to have a glass of Chianti classico go to the Antica Fattoria Castellina (Via Ferruccio 26), the most famous wine shop in town. Take a walk on the charming Via delle Volte before you leave and, if you like archaeological museums you can pay a visit to the Museo Archeologico del Chianti Senese, inside the medieval fort in the town centre.
Radda in Chianti. Part of the original Chianti league, Radda is a charming hamlet 11 km East of Castellina in Chianti. The main attraction is the Palazzo del Podestà built in the 15th century and adorned by escutcheons and standards. Radda is just one of the potential starting points for a tour of Chianti, before you go though stop by at Casa Porciatti (Piazza IV Novembre) to buy some local products to have a proper pic-nic during your trip.
From Radda you’ll easily reach the Castello di Volpaia, where one of the wineries of the area is located: guided tours are available as well as all inclusive packs that will allow you to join wine tasting sessions and cooking classes. Another winery, the one in Castello di Brolio, belongs to the Ricasoli family since the 13th century: take a walk around the gardens or take a guided tour before visiting the osteria for lunch or dinner. Reservation required. More info on www.baronericasoli.com.
Where to eat
All the wineries we’ve talked about offer local products tasting and most of the times have a restaurant or an osteria within the estate. Here’s some further suggestion: a couple of trattorias where you can taste the most authentic flavours of Tuscany.
La Cantinetta di Rignana (Rignana, Via Rignana 13). Located inside an old farm near Badia a Passignano, this charming osteria will give you the chance of tasting a wonderful meal while enjoying a wonderful view of the countryside. The menu of the Cantinetta is rustic and genuine, and of course you won’t be let down by the wine selection.
Ristorante Albergaccio (Castellina in Chianti, Via Fiorentina 63). This exclusive restaurant is located inside a renovated farm, 1 km away from Castellina on the way to San Donato in Poggio. The menu offers only local biological products depending on the season, the dishes are delicious and innovative, that’s why Albergaccio is the the perfect choice for a gourmet meal.