Chianti is a world famous wine-producing region between Florence and Siena. Since the Etruscan time wine has been produced here. The countryside is beautiful with green, gentle hills covered with vineyards and olive groves. In between are many charming small stone villages and wine farms.
The Chianti Classico is the oldest and most genuine area within the Chianti region and is the origin of the Chianti Classico wines with their unmistakable pink banderole and the Black Rooster seal. To be named "Classico" it is not enough to be produced inside the Chianti Classico region. In fact Classico wine has to respect specific rules. Its blend is at least 80% Sangiovese grapes and a maximum of 20% for other grapes. That can be native grapes such as Canaiolo and Colorino, as well as other international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Our first stop in the Chianti region was the town of Castellina. It is located on a ridge above three valleys: Val di Pesa, Val d'Arbia, and Val d'Elsa. No matter what direction you turn, the panorama is always wonderful. The strong 15th-century medieval walls and fortified town gate gives a hint of the history of Castellina. It was an outpost during the continuing wars between Florence and Siena. In the main square (Piazza del Comune) there is a 15th-century palace and a 15th-century fort constructed around a 13th-century tower. Nowadays it serves as the town hall.
Radda in Chianti sits on a ridge stretching between the Val di Pesa and Val d'Arbia. It is a beautiful medieval town enclosed in large defensive walls. It has been inhabited since the 9th century and was already mentioned in a document from 1002.
Not far from Radda is Castello di Volpaia which we passed on our way to Greve in Chianti. Don´t miss the chance to stop here. On the first view it is just another 12th century medieval village, but when you take a closer look you will find that its ancient houses, churches and underground passages have been discreetly converted into olive presses, wine cellars and bottling plants up to the ceiling in the latest equipment and all are connected by an amazing underground "wineduct". Thus Volpaia is not just another magnificent tourist attraction, but a lively place whose inhabitants are all directly or indirectly involved in the winery.
Greve di Chianti is the the center of the Chianti region. It is a friendly market town with cafés, enoteche (wine bars), and crafts shops lining its streets. The center of this town is a large square with many shops. Here is also the famous Antica Macelleria Falorni which claims to be the oldest butchers shop (macelleria) in Italy. The shop was founded by Gio Batta in 1729. Today Antica Macelleria Falorni is run by the eighth generation, brothers Lorenzo and Stefano Bencistà, related by marriage to the founding family. Along with fresh meat, Falorni sells a fine range of salami, prosciutto and other prepared meats
Outside of the square is a huge wine tasting shop, “Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti”. This place has more than 140 wines available to taste from all over Italy with a focus on Tuscan wines. The room is filled with wine bottles to purchase and in the center are wine-pouring machines. You just need to purchases a prepaid card, then inserts the card into the slot on each machine and push the button of the wine of preference for a one ounce pour. The wines are all priced differently…from as cheap as 60 euro cents to several dollars per pour. We purchased our prepaid card of 20 euros and started our tasting adventure. This was a great time…don’t miss it if you travel to Greve in Chianti.