The Beautiful Chianti Region in Tuscany
Today I’d like to talk of what is one of the most beautiful and renowned areas of Tuscany: the Chianti. The simple term “Chianti” is probably the one that mostly embodies the quintessential image of Tuscany.
Chianti is the region of wonderful vineyards and charming hill top towns that stretches from Florence to Siena on to Arezzo.
This central part of Tuscany is like a beautiful painting: undulating green hills covered with countless vineyards and secular olive groves, medieval hamlets and ancient amazing castles, winding country roads, and large extensive woodlands. Chianti is also a great base to explore Tuscany!
The Renowned Chianti Classico Wine
All of this, together with the superb Chianti wine produced on these suggestive hills, contributes to increase the great charm of Chianti. When driving along the wine routes in this wonderful region, stopping to taste the delicious Chianti wine, is a pleasure not to be missed, becoming also an opportunity to taste the genuine extra-virgin olive oil.
Chianti is indeed famous all over the world for its excellent “Chianti Classico” wines that gained the DOCG denomination in 1984. All Chianti wines must respect strict high quality control standards and are characterized by the Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) label. The classic formula for Chianti wine, based on the Sangiovese variety, was created around the year 1860 by Bettino Ricasoli at the famous Castle of Brolio.
The scenic hill-top towns of the Chianti Area
The main villages of Chianti can be reached by bus from Florence and Siena, but the best way to really discover and get to know the region is travelling by car. Driving along the scenic Chiantigiana route is an experience! You’ll have the possibility to visit many hidden corners, stop to visit some wineries or take wonderful photographs.
Here below I’ve included a brief guideline to the wonderful hill top towns of Chianti:
Castellina in Chianti is a beautiful medieval village encircled by ancient walls and dominated by a wonderful Fortress or Rocca adorned with merlons, that dates back to the 15th century and hosts a small Etruscan museum. The town is characterized by a beautiful covered walkway, known as Via delle Volte, an original and charming underground vaulted street. The village boasts Etruscan origins, as the Ipogeo Etrusco of Montecalvario testifies: a complex of subterranean burial charmers of the 6th century BC.
Wine is certainly absolute protagonist of Castellina, there are many wine shops and you can enjoy fantastic meals in the good restaurants of the historical center!
Greve in Chianti is on of the nicest villages of Chianti. The biggest fair dedicated to wine, known as Chianti Wine Festival, takes places in Greve on the first week of September each year.
You can buy wine practically at every corner of the town, there are nice shops and good restaurants. The main square Piazza Matteotti is characterized by lovely irregular arcades. On Saturdays a market still takes place in the piazza. The statue at the center of the square is of Giovanni da Verrazzano, a famous Italian explorer that travelled the east coast of the United States, including the Bay of New York.
Just a few minutes away from Greve in Chianti, lies the castle and fortified village of Montefioralle, a very ancient medieval hamlet still guarded by its original walls, and delightfully surrounded by beautiful vineyards, ancient olive groves and cypress trees. There is a main elliptical street with tower houses and charming little alleys. Montefioralle is considered the birthplace of the great Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci.
West of Montefioralle, located a few kilometers on towards the Florence-to- Siena road, you’ll reach the beautiful Badia a Passignano, a monastery founded at the end of the ninth century. Here you should absolutely try the great restaurant Osteria di Passignano, where a lot of delicious typical dishes are prepared and where you can also take part in the wine cellars tours; the superb Chianti Classico “Badia a Passignano” is aged in the ancient cellars beneath the monastery.
Together with Gaiole and Castellina, Radda in Chianti formed the so-called Lega del Chianti (The League of Chianti) instituted in the year 1384 by the city of Florence against the eternal rival city of Siena. Radda was the main stronghold in the war against Siena. Still guarded by medieval defensive walls, the village is located on top of a hill covered with woods and vineyards, between the Pesa and Arbia valleys. A visit to the Museum of Sacred Art of Chianti is recommended.
The main attraction of the nice medieval town of Gaiole in Chianti is actually represented by the many prestigious wineries in its surroundings, offering fantastic tasting opportunities. The near Castle of Vertine and the village of Barbischio are amongst the main sights.
The fairytale Castles of Chianti
All the area in the proximity of Gaiole in Chianti is dominated by wonderful imposing castles, like the Castle of Meleto, where you can visit the wine cellar and stay for some nights, and the beautiful Castle of Brolio, still property of the noble Ricasoli family and famous for its Chianti wine cellar, that can be visited together with the enchanting garden of the castle, that offers a breathtaking view all over the Chianti landscape with Siena in the far distance.
Chic Accommodations in Chianti
Chianti is the perfect place to pass a relaxing holiday! Great natural sceneries and exceptional food and wine
If you choose to have a vacation in Chianti, please find my personal suggestions for very special accommodations in Chianti!