“You can find many people’s idea of earthly paradise in the 65 sq. miles of land between Florence and Siena, known as Chianti. . .This is the world’s definitive wine region. One local grape, the Canaiolo nero traditionally goes into Chianti Classico, likely named after the local noble Etruscan family Clantes. By 1404, the red wine long produced here was being called chianti, and is signified by a black rooster on the label.” Frommers
Greve was our first stop on our day of driving through the Chianti. Joe and I are consulting a map of the small town, probably looking for a W.C. They were setting up tables and booths in a courtyard for a big wine festival. We were disappointed because we got there too early in the day. . .
Next we went to Villa Vignamaggio, selected by Kenneth Brannagh for the Much Ado About Nothing movie set. It was also the home of Lisa Gherardini, better known as Mona Lisa. We were disappointed because we weren’t able to look around the villa.
Mostly we drove through winding, narrow, mountainous roads. Once during a “short cut” that Mark thought would be a good idea, we ended up doing a 5-point turn on a gravel road, the edge of which dropped off to who-knows-how-far below. Yikes. I wish I had a photo of Joes’ face in the back seat during this manuever.
Castello di Volpaia was in a nice quaint little village. Only the central keep remains of the original castle the Florentines used to repel Sienese attacks (now the other side of the story). You can taste wine here and purchase some if you don’t mind paying 80 euros (about $140 at the time) to ship six bottles to the U.S. We bought one bottle and shoved it into a suitcase.
Badia a Coltibuono was an abbey founded in A.D. 770 and expanded from the 12th century to 1810 when it passed into private hands. Today the estate is owned by the Stucci-Prinetti family who overseas the wine production. Lorenza de’ Medici (now that’s a familiar name in Florence) is a family member. He holds a culinary school here in the summer.
This felt more like a scene from Much Ado About Nothing.
Badia a Coltibuono is a bed and breakfast. Mark thinks he wants to spend a month here and maybe help out in the gardens. I’m still trying to imagine Mark sitting still in one place for more than a couple of days. . .
They have quite a collection in their wine cellar here. I thought the bottles from WWII years were interesting. Somehow the family managed to hide the wine when the Germans came through.
I was sorry we didn’t have time to stay for dinner here. They had a lovely restaurant with open-air seating and a fantastic view.
Our last stop in Chianti was a quick one in Castellina—more of a drive-by really. We returned to San Gimignano where we spent our last night having a fabulous dinner at a Trattoria in town recommended by Rick Steves. We were heading to Assisi in the morning.
Photos by Christine M. Grote and Mark Joseph Grote
Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote
See more links to posts about Italy on my “Places I’ve Been” page.
DK Eyewitness travel — Florence & Tuscany, DK Publishing, NY, 2007
Frommer’s Florence, Tuscany & Umbria, 6th ed., by John Moretti, Wiley Publishing,NJ, 2008
Rick Steves’ Florence & Tuscany 2009