From Florence to Siena, on the streets of wine
From Florence, choosing to stay in the camping areas that are in the province, you can plan that will take you in one day to the lands of the big Tuscan wines, letting you discover unforgettable corners in this fascinating side of the planet. The trip is taking you from Florence to the South, towards Siena, so to pass all the Chianti zone.
Chianti is a big area with a hilly aspect located in the centre of the Region, between Florence and Siena and whose borders are well represented: on the North by the Ombrone River, on the South by the Arno, on the East by the Chianti Mountains and on the West by the Elsa Valley. Its hills, full of rivers like Greve, Arbia, Ombrone, Elsa and pesa, have a naturalistic aspect of great beauty and are well characterized by the armonious togetherness of environment and human activity, which is showing itself through the ordered cultivations of grapevine and olives and from wheat stretches.
The natural landscape of this area is really diverse and presents also several forests, mosly made out of holm oak and chestnut trees that are growing at the hills´ slopes. The magic of this territory yet is the perfect balance between the soft-conformation hillsides and the several shades of colour of the bushy woods, inhabited by old parish churches, old castles, villas and big farms, where nowadays tradition is portentously meeting the most modern way of organization and production. A catchment with a strong agricultural orientation, whose origine go back to a very ancient period.
This is Chianti, which is extending between Florence and Siena and has its strenght in Chiantigiana, that goes through the whole area starting from Greve. The territory of Chianti Classico entirely includes the municipalities of Greve, Radda, Castellina e Gaiole in Chianti as well as part of Castelnuovo Berardenga, Barberino Val D’Elsa, San Casciano Val di Pesa, Poggibonsi e Tavarnelle. All of them are villages worth a visit, in the heart of Tuscany, birthplace of art and culture which here, between the unforgettable views of its landscape, in these villages, it is hiding another treasure: being able to preserve, develop and rework ancient traditions.
Wine is one of these traditions, which is coming out from a history of work and experience. The wine-producing tradition is of very fundamental importance in Tuscany. In the lands of Chianti Classico, in those seventy km between Siena and Florence, everyday a history of work has been told, which is making Chianti famous all around the world. A visit in this region has to include a visit at the vineyards and at the shops where typical products can be bought. The main product is Vino Chianti Classico DOCG that, according to the Disciplinare is made out of pure Sangiovese grapes or adding other red-fruit grapes (Canaiolo, Colorino) and it is recognized by the Black Cockerer since 1924.
Of great importance is also the extra virgin olive oil previous as well as the Vinsanto. Yet Chianti Classico is an area of strong culinary tradition which has been including the culture of rural cuisine, the nobility of the Chianina beef and the big variety of pork meet, cinta senese and wild boar. Saffron cropping has been recently reintroduced.
Lands and wines of Chianti are not the only things which are making people talking about Tuscany. If we move towards the South, in the province of Siena, between Valdichiana and Val d´Orcia, we arrive in Montepulciano, ‘pearl of the Renaissance’, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, today headquarter of a municipality of almost 15000 inhabitants. From the tower of Palazzo Comunale, in very clear days, you could see Italian Gran Sasso. The history and the fame of the Montepulciano territory are characterized by the production on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, wine of excellent quality amongst the oldest in Italy. Great is also the traditional cuisine, worth to mention are ‘pici’ an ancient handmade pasta.
Moving in the Val d’Orcia a visit in Montalcino is really mandatory, to buy a bottle of Brunello, one of the most prestigious wine all over the world. Coming back in Siena, if we move towards Val d’Elsa we will arrive in one of those places where natural beauties are mixing together for a special harmony with the artistic and cultural patrimony.
We are in San Gimignano, which stands in a wide hill inside the fortified walls and it is an extraordinary example of medieval urban development. A visit itinerary that will give you the opportunity to really admire the beauty and the particularity of the village, entering from Porta San Giovanni going through Piazza della Cisterna with its tower-houses and arriving in Piazza del Duomo and Collegiata. Here an excellent white wine is being produced: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, with a straw yellow colour, slightly sour, produces from grapes of homonymous vineyard.
Not very far, on the way that brings to Siena, up on a hill, there is the unmistakable fortified profile of Monteriggioni. The village, founded at the beginning of the XIII Century from the Sienese Republic as a defensive advance guard towards Florence, stills has the ancient walls with its 14 towers, rare examples of medieval military architecture. This is Tuscany as well, that original combination of nature, art, genius and hard work, from which the worldwide admired ´Tuscan landscape´ was born.