Chianti + San Gimignano
The Chianti valley is a land of pure relaxation, homely feelings and peace.
You will be able to enjoy its warm sunshine in the various typical Tuscan medieval farmhouses, Renaissance villas and castles which still bear the charm of their authenticity. Immerse yourself in a dream that will transport you into the heart of renaissance.
The region that gave birth to the most appreciated Italian culture.
The quintessence of what makes Italy the so-called “Bel Paese”, which simply means, beautiful country, for the unparalleled amount of beautiful art and design, diverse landscapes, cultural life as well as the highest quality of food and wine production.
Specifically, the Chianti area extends between Florence and Siena, in the basin of the Arno river and counts eight towns: Impruneta, S. Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa, Greve in Chianti, Castellina, Radda, Gaiole, Castelnuovo Berardenga.
The best way to appreciate it is either by bicycle if you are into sports and don't mind hilly roads, or by car if you prefer to profit from the views without efforts.
Unfortunately, public transport in the region is not extremely developed as connections tend to be limited and this is why you can find a range of organized tours to make life easier for tourists who can simply focus on the surrounding beauty.
The peaceful feeling makes it also a good option to choose it as a base to visit the Tuscan main cities which can be crowded as generally cities tends to be.
While in Chianti you can enjoy numerous traditional dishes and a variety of wines selected from the Sangiovese grapes.
Classico, Superiore or Riserva, there will be plenty of opportunities to try different varieties with wine tasting routes within the region accompanied by local traditional appetizers.
Your best bet will be to do so in one of the many wineries where you can also have an understanding about the wine production process as well as some information about the grape varieties selected thorough history to create this well known wine, exported all over the world, especially in US, Germany Canada and UK and with an estimated production worth 360 million euro per year.
Following the Chianti road, it is possible to visit Impruneta, where the terracotta shingles of the Duomo in Florence have been produced. It is known today also for hand-painted ceramics and the grape festival on the last Sunday of September.
A visit to the nearby Renaissance villas should not be missed.
Next, we can find Greve in Chianti, on the base of the valley and half-way along the scenic Chiantigiana highway, it is the market town of the region. The town offers a good selection of restaurants, ceramics and wine shops.
The surrounding hills host beautiful properties ready to welcome you in one of their various relaxing accommodation. The Castello di Montefioralle, a castellated village, is nearby and well worth a visit.
We continue the trip on what was once the Roman Via Cassia, surrounded by vineyards and oak trees and we find Panzano and its well-preserved castle. Later on, following the River Arno we arrive at Radda in Chianti – the head-quarter of the Gallo Nero wine association.
The area is very popular with holiday-makers and there are numerous accommodation possibilities in the farmhouses that dot the hills. Southwest of Radda, we find Castellina an ancient holiday town chosen by the Middle Ages wealthy Florentines who erected buildings that are still used as exclusive tourist residences. Despite being damaged during WWII the town retains two renaissance palaces and a fortress.
On the other side of the hill, the pearls of the region shines,San Gimignano, with its city walls and a hundred towers is definitely a must of this trip. Its extraordinary beauty doesn't cease to fascinate millions of people every year.
Next on the list, Monteriggioni, an ancient fortress built on the hill that still preserves all of its beauty and Mediaeval history. You will be surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, neither cars nor traffic, only stunning landscapes.
On route, it's possible to appreciate the Passignano Abbey, where Galileo Galileo studied and where now, its cellars store one of the most famous Italian wines, the Antinori family wine.
You can also decide to stop there, for a lunch in Osteria di Passignano , probably the finest Michelin starred restaurant of the area, or simply visit the cellar and taste some Antinori wine.
The road continues to Montefioralle Castle: a nice, really small town that can be visited in 10 minutes, with only one main road that goes up to the top of the hill, where the castle is located.
There you will find La Castellana, a delicious and recommended place if you like truffle, mushrooms and especially if you want to try the Bistecca alla Fiorentina.
After a pleasant visit to the oldest butchery in Chianti (a must see, believe us) we can either go ahead and visit another winery in the area or just return to Florence where we can stop for a while in the Michelangelo's square for one of the most beautiful view of the city.