Greve in Chianti was our home base while in the Chianti region of Tuscany. From here we travelled to Siena then to Montepulciano, Pienza, Montalcino, San Gimignano, Arezzo and Montichiello. As I detailed in a previous blog we were delighted to stay at Villa Bordoni for our time after we left Venice and Florence. The countryside around Chianti is very fertile and a patchwork of vineyards, ancient olive groves, dark cypress trees and the miles of hay fields. You see many small and ancient villages, magnificent Renaissance palazzos and churches.
Greve in Chianti is a medieval town not far from Florence in the heart of Chianti Classico territory and has developed around a central Piazza over the last 500 years. . Piazza Matteotti, a triangular shaped square is surrounded by shops and restaurants and is home to the Saturday market. In the center of the Piazza is a statue of Giovanni da Verranzano. If you have ever been to NYC then you know of the Verranzano bridge. He is credited with discovering NY harbor. At the far end is the church of Santa Croce.
Sangiovese grapes are the very soul of Tuscany. In fact, their fruity, aromatic fragrance is present in almost all of Tuscany’s top wines.
– Classic: is reserved for wines produced in the region where a particular type of wine has been produced “traditionally”. For the Chianti Classico, this “traditional region” is defined by a decree from 1932.
– Riserva: may be used only for wines that have been aged at least two years longer than normal for a particular type of wine.
“Chianti Classico, produced in the provinces of Firenze and Siena is characterized from the exclusive and compulsive “Gallo Nero” label. Chianti Classico and Riserva is made with 80-100% of Sangiovese grapes, and a max 20% of Canaiolo, Colorino, Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Merlot. ……also the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione (grapes must be grown by the winery itself and minimum aging requirement: 30 months, including 3 months of bottle aging).”
Since the 1970s, Tuscan wine producers have begun to experiment with foreign grape varietals, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. By combining these with the Sangiovese grape, they have created the Super Tuscan wines (an unofficial category of Tuscan wines, not recognized within the Italian wine classification system), which are high-quality wines that are popular in international markets. Some of the most famous names are: Tignanello and Sassicaia.
Montefioralle is a tiny hamlet set on a hilltop west of Greve in Chianti paved with stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets and is supposedly the ancestral home of Amerigo Vespucci, the mapmaker, navigator and explorer who named America. This town dates back to the 11th century and is exactly how you expect a Tuscan village to look with its medieval buildings still standing. Widely considered one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and still enclosed by its original defensive walls. Charming!!!! It was absolutely magical and I felt transported back in time.
We stopped by during the day when it was very quiet and then came back in the evening for a fabulous dinner including the infamous Bistecca Fiorentina! Let me just say we had this steak everywhere! Steak is really not the right word to describe this thick slab of beef it is like a T-bone steak from a large oxen. It is always seared on both sides and served rare. As all the guide books suggest- don’t ask for it well done!
Want to read more about Villa Bordoni? or Villa Vignamaggio in Greve? Here is a link also back to the beginning of this adventure which began in Venice. From there you can continue with me or jump to Florence, Siena, Pienza…. well you get the idea! Stay tuned still to come are Montalcino and Montechiello.