Sunday 25 July 2021

Romanesque Parish Churches of Chianti

A one day driving tour of the Romanesque parish churches (Pievi) of Chianti is a great way to introduce yourself to the highways and byways of Chianti Italy as well as, of course, to see some of the oldest and most evocative architecture and works of art in Tuscany. One good route is simply to follow the Via Chiantigiana and make the appropriate detours.

Romanesque Parish Churches of Chianti
Pieve di San Cresci - a romanesque parish church in Chianti

The historic pievi (singular: pieve) are for the most part mediaeval although the Pieve di San Vincenti near Castelnuovo Berardenga dates from the Dark Age - it was a Basilica in the 7 C. They range from the magnificent (e.g. San Polo in Rosso) to the simple, single nave structures such as the Pieve di Santa Maria a Pacina, dating from the 8 C and characterised by a highly unusual cylindrical campanile (bell tower). 

If you are a Tuscan wine lover, you can combine visiting what is probably the oldest extant parish church in Chianti with a visit to a winery that takes its name from the church - namely, the Pieve di San Cresci winery. This wine producer belongs to the Ballini family who have been making wine here for almost two hundred years. Their wines are personal favorites of mine and I recommend them highly, especially the three Chianti Classicos. The winery has a wine tasting facility just in front of the church.

Author: Anna Maria Baldini

Saturday 17 July 2021

The most beautiful villages in Tuscany

 "La Bandiera Arancione" - the Orange Flag - of the Touring Club Italia is one of the most sought after accolades among the villages of Italy and nearby areas. To win a place on the Orange Flag list means that the Touring Club and its members have assessed your village to be one of the most attractive villages in Italy in terms of beauty and livability, and with a great artistic and cultural heritage. The list is renewed every three years with only about 8% of 3,200 candidates making the grade. This year, 38 villages in Tuscany found a place on the list.

 The 38 most beautiful villages in Tuscany

Anghiari, Province of Arezzo

I have one quibble with their list, namely that they have selected mostly not villages but towns, some of them quite considerable. I guess that's a consequence of their voting system since obviously more of their members visit towns than small villages. I would have included both Montefioralle and Panzano in Chianti on my list of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany.

Anyway, here are the 38 most beautiful villages in Tuscany, according to Touring Club Italia, the Province of Sienna receiving the most awards:

San Gimignano

There are 16 awarded villages in the Province of Sienna: Casole d'Elsa, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Cetona, Chiusi, Montalcino, Montefollonico, Montepulciano, Monteriggioni, Murlo, Pienza, Radda in Chianti, Radicofani, San Casciano dei Bagni, San Gimignano, Sarteano and Trequanda.

If you are in the Province of Pisa: Casale Marittimo, Casciana Terme Lari, Castelnuovo di Val di Cecina, Peccioli, Pomarance and Volterra.

Four in the Province of Grosseto: Massa Marittima, Pitigliano, Santa Fiora and Sorano;

Three in the Province of Arezzo: Anghiari, Castiglion Fiorentino and Lucignano.

Three villages in the Province of Firenze: Barberino Tavarnelle, Certaldo and Vinci.

Two in the Province of Lucca: Barga and Montecarlo.

Two in the Province of Pistoia: Abetone Cutigliano and Collodi.

One in the Province of Livorno: Suvereto.

One in the Province of Massa-Carrara: Fosdinovo.


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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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