The Chianti Classico region of Tuscany is the heart of the Chianti wine region. It is the region between Florence and Siena with gentle hills, rolling vineyards, olive groves, countryside stone houses and medieval hilltop towns. Known for its panoramic landscapes, rich history, delectable cuisine and Chianti Classico wineries, it is perhaps one the of most beautiful wine regions in the world. Each town has its unique history, architecture and charms. Here a some of the hilltop towns on our tour.
Greve the center of the Chianti wine industry. Greve regularly hosts a Slow Food marketplace and the Chianti Classico Expo in its piazza. Piazza Matteotti is lined with attractive shops, wine stores, artisan product shops, restaurants and tasting rooms. There is also a Wine Museum to learn about the history of winemaking in the Chianti Classico region.
Panzano is a small, charming medieval town located on a high ridge surrounded by Chianti Classico vineyards. Panzano’s views are of vineyards dotted with cypress tress, olive groves, and farmhouses. Panzano has range of restaurants and ‘enotecas’/wine tasting shops. It is home of the famous ‘Butcher of Panzano’, Dario Cecchini, featured on The Food Network. Guests will enjoy dinner at his restaurant, La Officina. He is the ‘heart of Panzano’ and a true character!
The village of Montefioralle is still enclosed within its original walls. During the Middle Ages, it was one of the largest military and administrative centers in the area. It is believed to date back to 1085 AD. The village itself is virtually free of cars. The cobbled passageways lead to the entrance of its main castle. Vineyards stretch in every direction. Guests will taste at Montefioralle Winery – a small family-owned vineyard.
Radda is a classic small Chianti town. Crowning a hill amongst a sea of vines, it is a sunny cluster of haphazard, medieval and thoroughly charming buildings. Its hilltop offers 360-degree panoramas. Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm is a small private agritourism just outside Radda. Snuggled against the hillside is the farmhouse surrounded by unflawed nature, cashmere goats and extraordinary wildlife. Guests will visit the farm, meet the goats and learn how cashmere goats are raised. Owner and ‘goat whisperer’, Nora, makes products from goat fibers such as handwoven scarves, shawls, throws and also goat milk skincare products.
San Gimignano is a walled village halfway between Florence and Siena. It is famous for its medieval towers that rise above all the other buildings. In the height of its glory, San Gimignano’s patrician families had built 72 tower-houses as symbols of their wealth and power. Although only 14 have survived today, San Gimignano still retains its feudal atmosphere and appearance. This town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Siena is the most southern town on the tour and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city center is distinguished by its medieval brick buildings and fan-shaped central square, Piazza del Campo. The Siena Cathedral, a focal point of the city, is a medieval Roman Catholic church completed around 1370. Its interior and exterior are constructed of distinctive white and dark green marble in alternating stripes. Built in two stages, the Siena Cathedral combines elements of Gothic, Romanesque and Classical architecture. It is not to be missed!
San Miniato is in the province of Pisa. In its history, San Miniato served as a beacon for both friend and foe. Known by the Romans as Quarto, it is set on three dominant hills which served as a strategic lookout to the Arno River and the valley below. Its geographic position was important to north/south travel along the Via Francigena that connected France to Rome during the Middle Ages. This route was traveled by an uninterrupted flow of men, armies, trade and cultures. San Miniato today is the center of Tuscany’s white truffle region. We will follow a 3rd generation truffle hunter and his dog through the woods searching for the ‘diamonds of the land’. Afterward, lunch will be served in his home.