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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Monday, 5 July 2021

Upcoming Chianti wine festivals

On 4 and 5 September 2021, there is a wine tasting event taking place in the attractive village of Radda in Chianti - Radda nel Bichiere. Earlier in the year, on the first weekend of June 2021, there is another one in Lamole in Chianti, I Profumi di Lamole. And the Chianti wine festival takes place in Montespertoli from 10 to 12 September 2021. To take in some or all of these wine tasting occasions, you could find a place to stay on the Panzano in Chianti website.and for the Montespertoli Chianti wine festival on the Montespertoli website.

Radda nel Bichiere
At Radda nel Bichiere

For September, there are two upcoming Chianti wine festivals to note in your agenda.

Chronologically, the first is the Chianti Classico wine fair taking place in Greve in Chianti, 45-60 minutes south of Florence and reachable by bus from Florence. The official name is the XLVI Rassegna del Chianti Classico (46th Expo of Chianti Classico wines). In 2021, this wine festival takes place from the 10th to the 12th September 2021 in Piazza Matteotti, the main piazza of Greve in Chianti. Note that you might have to park some distance from the venue due to heavy traffic - this fair is very popular. If you also plan to drink some wine, that's just one more reason to take the bus.

Rassegna del Chianti Classico
The Terre di Melazzano booth at the Rassegna del Chianti Classico
 
The way it works is that you buy a wine glass from the Cassa and Informazioni booth and this allows you to try a certain number of the wines displayed. You can both buy and order wine and olive oil at the booths. In addition to the wine tasting, a variety of events is offered during the four days, but I wouldn't over estimate their intrinsic interest. Click here for the 2021 programme. The Greve Chianti wine fair has a good number of Tuscan wineries represented, each offering all of the wines that they produce - mainly Chianti Classico, of course. My only objection to this fair is that when the weather is hot, few of the exhibitors take any steps to keep their wines cool. Some of them are left in direct sunlight and are distinctly warm when you taste them.

The second wine tasting event is Vino al Vino, taking place one week later in Panzano in Chianti, 10 minutes drive in the direction of Sienna from Greve and also accessible by bus from Florence. Vino al Vino takes place from the 16th to the 19th of September 2021. To some extent, I prefer Vino al Vino over the Chianti Classico Expo if only because it is smaller, with about 21 wineries presenting their wines and olive oil, and has a more intimate atmosphere. I also find the food on sale better than in Greve. There's live Jazz on Saturday & Sunday from 6 until 8 pm.

Vino al Vino Panzano Chianti wine festival
Vino al Vino Panzano Chianti wine festival

For accommodation nearby the venues:

Greve in Chianti accommodation.

Panzano in Chianti accommodation.

Villa hotels.

Chianti wine festivals on Facebook.

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Travel Guide!

Up-to-date news on what to see and where to stay in Chianti and all of Tuscany.

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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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