The Chianti area stretches between Florence and Siena – in central Italy – comprising around 12 thousand square kms of natural beauty and imbued with a true sense of tradition. Rolling hills, endless vineyards, beautifully kept olive groves, woods, ancient castles, charming farmhouses and villas.
In the Chianti the good life is an everyday thing, and people with a real passion for farming produce quality products at every door from wine, to olive oil.
Discover all the reasons why you’ll fall in love with it!
Experience the Chianti, Italy
1. Chianti is a wine-tasters paradise
Enjoy top-notch wine tasting in one of the world’s most beloved wine regions. Wine has been produced here since Etruscan times, and today this area is devoted to the quality of its precious nectars. Wine making is taken extremely seriously here, from every point of view, and given complex classifications and designations; the Chianti Classico, with the Gallo Nero label, is the daddy of them all.
When you visit the Chianti region you open the door to all sorts of wine tasting opportunities – from ancient cellars buried inside impressive-looking castles, to elegant villas and wine making facilities where modern architecture blends perfectly with the surrounding countryside.
You can organise wine tasting yourself with a little advance planning – don’t expect just to turn up, you usually need to book in advance for winery tours and tasting. Or let someone else do the work for you while you enjoy it, by joining a Half Day Wine Tasting Tour departing from Florence.
2. Eat your way around the Chianti
Food is the other cornerstone of the Chianti region. Eating out in one the local trattorie is a feast for the senses. Meat is revered here, as the butcher-poet Dario Cecchini from the small town of Panzano, testifies. He became famous some years ago for dedicating some verses to the steak, and since then he has opened a couple of restaurants in Panzano.
What can you expect in a typical Chianti menu? An array of affettati (cold cuts) – salame, prosciutto, rigatino – local pork sausages, and crostini misti to start with. Traditional dishes include tonno del chianti (slow cooked pork with lots of olive oil), beef stew peposo and pasta with cinghiale (wildboar) sauce. If you visit Greve in Chianti pay a visit to the Macelleria Falorni and you’ll see that a butcher shop can actually look… beautiful.
But it’s not only about top-quality meat, fresh vegetables are plentiful, beautiful and served with abundant local extra-virgin olive oil, another one of Chianti’s golden products. You find county-style soups, like ribollita and panzanella, crostini made with the typical and delicious Tuscan bread, and an array of cakes served with the locally produced Vinsanto wine.
3. Join the fun at a local sagra
All over Tuscany, sagre – or food festivals – are a big deal. Small towns dress up for the party, and everyone gets involved. Local associations and small businesses put all their efforts into creating more and more occasions to enjoy the good life, which is what the Chianti is all about.
Throughout the year, you find festivals dedicated to traditonal food of all sorts, from wild boar to sweet fritters (frittelle), from olive oil inspired dishes to grape. Wine festivals are of course a big deal in this part of the world, where local wine producers proudly offer and show off their best vintages.
4. Landscapes to die for
Those Chianti rolling hills have been made famous by countless pictures, and we assure you, the reality is 100% better. There’s something truly moving about the way the sun caresses the lines of the vineyards, giving life to their precious, and the silvery sparks of light glinting in the olive groves.
The land is alive here, and you can feel it. Man and nature have come together to create one of the most pleasant landscapes on earth. Orderly, green and relaxing to the eye. Beautifully kept farmhouses and barns, elegant villas surrounded by cypress trees. Poppies, irises, wisteria. Every bend in the road offers new delights.
A really memorable way to experience the Chianti landscape is from the basket of a hot air balloon. Check out this Hot Air Balloon Experience departing from San Casciano Val di Pesa.
5. Experience Slow Living
When you visit the Chianti, forget the saying “time is money”. The ‘cittaslow’ movement was born right here in Greve in Chianti in 2000 and it advocates more awareness in the approach to life. It’s all about appreciate every moment, giving every experience the attention and energy it deserves. It enhances local food & wine, conviviality and a respect of unique traditions.
CittaSlow is a “network of cities where living is good” as they state in their website. Take a moment to ‘enjoy time’. Leave your watch behind and follow the relaxed rhythm of the Chianti. Get to know the locals, their long-standing traditions and values, share their love for the land and enjoy some of the locally grown authentic products.
6. Browse at one of the Markets
Open air markets are one of the many delights of Italy and Tuscany. It’s where you find local street food (try a panino con porchetta, you won’t regret it!), fresh vegetables and fruits, plants, flowers, various cheap bargains, home-wear and clothing.
Markets are the soul of every small town, where gossip, local news and personal recipes are shared. It’s the best way to experience everyday Italy and immerse yourself in the habits and scents of an area.
Virtually every small town has a weekly morning market. Here are a few in the Chianti: San Casciano Val di Pesa on Monday morning, Greve, Impruneta and Castellina in Chianti on Saturday morning, Strada in Chianti every Tuesday, Tavarnelle on Thursday.
7. In search of the ultimate hilltop town
Do you love the idea of an ancient picturesque small hamlet? Are you after picture-perfect corners, flowery windows and ancient stone buildings? Then you’ve found the right place to visit.
From the ultra-picturesque Montefioralle, a former castle perched on a hill above Greve in Chianti, to Volpaia, a wine lovers paradise and a timeless place of peace and beauty. From the tiny village of San Gusmè, surrounded by vineyards and silence to the photogenic Badia a Passignano with its ancient abbey; and the delightful Radda in Chianti where the streets are lined with enoteche. You’ll be spoiled for choice.
=> Check out our Chianti Road Trip, one day scenic itinerary in the Chianti.
When to go to the Chianti
It’s one of the most popular areas, and it goes without saying it gets pretty busy from June to September. This is also the best time to go for weather/temperatures. In July and August it gets pretty hot, but you have pleasant temperatures in the evening.
It’s known as the “Chiantishire” because of the expat community that started forming here in the 6o’s and 70’s. This said, the locals are very attached to their territory and traditions and they have kept it real and authentic despite the influx of tourists. Especially when you move out of the most popular spots, such as Radda e Castellina.
Visiting in Autumn and early Spring is quieter and better if you don’t want to meet many fellow tourists when you enjoy the view.
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