The Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy is a land of many pleasures, superb wine tasting and endless views. Stretching between the provinces of Florence, Siena and Arezzo, it’s a place of mellow rolling hills and dazzling panoramas, which for centuries has been devoted to the production of wine and olive oil. You’ll find hilltop towns, mighty castles, and an obsession with wine that dates back to the Etruscans.
The Chianti region – A taste of the good life, wine and gorgeous views
If wine and relaxing views are your thing, then a visit to the Chianti region is a must. It is surely one of the most scenic and attractive areas of Tuscany. An hour’s drive from Florence or Siena, a couple of days spent in the Chianti is the perfect way to balance your holiday after a visit to its art-filled cities.
And if you’re after total relaxation, a stay in one of the agriturismi or country-houses and villas in the area (many have swimming pools) will allow you to savour the most delightful views in all of Tuscany. And some of the most delicious food Italy has to offer.
Wine tasting in the Chianti, Tuscany
Chianti wine tasting tours are some of the most popular ways to visit the region. But with a car and some organisation you’ll be able to easily organise your own tasting experience.
You’ll spot plenty of “vendita diretta” (Local products on sale) or “wine tasting” signs where you can pick up everything from a bottle of Sangiovese, to locally produced pecorino cheese. You can improvise up to a point, but the opening hours vary, so it’s better to do a bit of research beforehand to make sure you don’t miss any particular favourites.
What to see and do in the Chianti region
Aside from its liquid treasures the main attractions of the Chianti region are its small hilltop towns, country churches and castles, all remains of its tumultuous Medieval past. Today many castles have been converted into private residences and some have been turned into agriturismi and wine estates,.
The most attractive towns are Radda, with its distinctive Medieval feel and spectacular views, and Castellina full of attractive shops and trattorie, some of which sit under a very atmospheric Medieval walkway. Gaiole is modern, and though not particularly attractive, the surrounding area has some of the finest historic wine estates like Brolio castle and Badia a Coltibuono.
The lively market town of Greve is another pleasant stop, proud home to a superb Enoteca and the historical butcher shop (and mouthwatering) Macelleria Falorni, a perfect spot for some food shopping. Greve is an ideal destination if you don’t have a car. It’s easily reachable by bus and is a popular day trip from Florence.
A fun place for food shopping, or a great lunch, is at the colourful Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano, where a local butcher, has opened a “Mac Dario” (Tuscan version of fast food) and a restaurant that serves “Solociccia” (Only meat).
Some of the estates that organise wine tasting are now offering different kinds of lunch and locally produced cheeses and cured meats. For a truly romantic experience, you can book a dinner in one of the castles now converted into agriturismi.
The small lovely hamlets of Montefioralle (near Greve) or the delightfully sleepy San Gusmè will take you back to Medieval times, as will the castles, that have dominated the valleys for centuries. Some of the most impressive are: Brolio, Meleto, Volpaia, and Verrazzano. Badia a Passignano is a monastic complex set in magnificent surroundings.
Chianti Sculpture Park is the perfect place to visit if you’re travelling with kids or if you just want to relax in artistic countryside setting. Contemporary artists exhibit their work here amongst olive trees.
How to travel around the Chianti region Tuscany
The best way to see the Chianti region is by car. The best views and attractions are better appreciated by driving around. One of the obvious benefits to driving is being able to stop and appreciate the views as you go. The narrow state roads (Strade Statali) often wind their way through olive groves and vineyards and a day’s driving will reward you with plenty of surprises and photo opportunities.
As for public transport: buses do exist but the services do not cater for tourists, so timetables are often quite sparse. Castellina can be reached by train from Siena and Empoli, and Greve is easily reached from Florence by SITA bus.