The Chianti region in Tuscany, Italy is world-famous because of the distinct wine it produces, but it is also one of the most beautiful spots in all of Tuscany.
The region offers “postcard-worthy” landscapes with splendid hills covered with colorful vineyards. The villages in the region are still dominated by traditional stone houses and small parishes. The area covered by Chianti is not well-defined because it is not an actual administrative region. However, the consensus is that the region covers the provinces of Florence until Siena. Valdarno and Val d’Elsa are the region’s bordering towns at the east and west respectively.
The wine-producing center of the Chianti region is called Chianti Classico, which is also the name of the famous Italian red wine that was first generated in this part of Tuscany. Chianti Classico covers the towns of Greve, Radda, Panzano, Castellina and Gaiole.
Greve is a great place to eat local cuisine that compliments the rich taste of Chianti wine. Aside from wine bars and restaurants, this is also the site for the Wine Museum, which features about 140 wine variations. Castello di Vicchiomaggio is a castle complex just a few kilometers from Greve. The castle’s surrounding vineyard is a well-known producer of Chianti Classico wine. The management provides wine tasting tours upon request. Another equally interesting venue for a wine cellar visit is Castello di Verrazzano.
Panzano is a small but populous town that is not only popular because of its wine bars, but also for butcher shop called Macelleria Ceccihini that serves the Florentine steak. Castellina offers its visitors the exquisite experience of tasting their traditionally prepared salami together with wine. Commenda of S. Eufrosino is one unique wine bar because it is a former church built in the 14th century. The lovely towns of Radda and Gaiole are also filled with farms and wineries that are ready to provide a sample of their best wine, cheese and olive oil.
Planning the Tour
Tour operators based in Florence and Sienna regularly offer escorted wine tasting excursions to the villages and wineries. Tour packages typically include a hotel pick-up and drop as well as lunch. If you plan on going for an independent wine tasting tour, there are important things to consider:
*Chianti covers a big area. The train lines do not go through the key attractions in the region. Although bus operations are regular, you really need to manage your time according to the bus schedule. Thus, it may be difficult to go around and maximize time using public transportation. The best thing is to rent a car or motorcycle and go for a pleasant drive through the countryside.
*The wineries in Chianti Classico are usually tucked into the valleys. Such unique locations do not have extensive roads. Thus, most visitors are required to walk a considerable distance to reach the wineries.
*You do not need to be restricted to hotels in Siena or Florence, there is a good number of hotels and bed-and-breakfast lodges scattered around the municipalities of Chianti.
*Although some of the bigger wineries facilitate spontaneous tours, itís much smarter to contact the wineries of your choice and make an appointment beforehand.
If you are a wine aficionado, or just love to sip Chianti combined with great cuisine and beautiful Italian countryside, a wine tasting tour may be a great vacation experience for you.