In this article we follow the Chianti Wine Route or Chiantigiana (SR 222) throughout one of Italy's most beautiful and charming regions. The road swings through the Tuscan hills of the Chianti Classico wine region along thousands of hectares of vineyards, all of which produce the Chianti Classico DOCG (the highest classification for Chianti). We leave in Florence and drive along the many picturesque villages to Siena.
The best time to follow the route is in September, during or just before the grape harvest, to to see bending the vines deeply under the weight of the ripe Sangiovese grapes, the variety of which the Chianti wine is made. In this month, many cities in the region celebrate the harvest with wine festivals such as the Vino al Vino in the third week of September in the town of Panzano in Chianti, where you can taste many local wines. Most of the vineyards are also open to the public, here is a selection:
Greve in Chianti
Greve is an important marketplace 31 km south of Firenze. The beautiful Franciscan monastery is located in the heart of the old part of the village as well as the triangular market square, which has been trading for centuries with nearby castles and villages.
Greve in Chianti
Verrazzano is located in an ancient medieval castle. Thanks to the central location of the castle on the estate, the grapes reach the cellar in a few minutes to be processed immediatly to ferment at a regular temperature. The ancient cellars originate from the 16th century. Ripening takes place in oak barrels placed along the basement corridors, protected from sudden temperature changes. In the castle, unique bottles are preserved since 1924. The harvest, which usually takes place between 25 September and 25 October, is carried out exclusively by hand to obtain a careful selection.
Villa di Vignamaggio
The Villa di Vignamaggio dates back to the 14th century and produces about 230,000 bottles of wine a year, including the Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, I.G.T. And the Vinsanto del Chianti Classico DOC. They offer guided tours trough their gardens and wine cellars, including wine tasting and lunch. (booking in advance)
Panzano in Chianti
Panzano in Chianti is just a few miles drive from Greve in Chianti and is located in the center between Florence and Siena on the Via Chiantigiana road. It is sitting on a hill giving you a beautiful view of the surrounding area and the underlying vineyards. It has a small historical center and cozy restaurants including Solociccia from the best-known Tuscan butcher Dario Cecchini. In his butchery Antica macelleria Cecchini you will find a large selection of meat dishes made in antique fashion and you will be received in a playful way by Dario himself or one of his helpers.
Dario Cecchini in his restaurant Solociccia
Next to the butchery, we find the Solociccia restaurant (only meat). There is only one menu available with 6 courses, where you taste all parts of the cow. It costs € 30, which includes drinks, coffee and dessert. Reservations are to be made long in advance because there are only 2 tables available.
In comparison to other vineyards in the area, Le Fonti is a rather small winery that produces about 40,000 bottles a year. Since 1994, Le Fonti is in the hands of the Schmitt-Vitali family. From harvest to bottling, everything is done by the family itself. For expert knowledge, they appeal to oenologist Dr Stefano Chioccioli.
Also a small family company that has been producing wine since 1720 according to strictly traditional methods. The Migliorini family bought Fattoria Montagliari in 1999 and also produces Grappa, brandy, Extra Virgin olive oil and old Trebbiano Balsamico (from 20 to 28 years old). The family also hosts an excellent restaurant with typical Tuscan food and offers breathtaking views over the Greve valley.
Castellina in Chianti
Castellina in Chianti is located in the midst of the valleys of the Arbia, Elsa and Pesa rivers and is together with Radda in Chianti the most beautiful of the 4 Chianti towns near Siena. The town has a historical and noble origin, built in the 13th century on a high mountain hill, probably on a Roman ruin. It has a medieval atmosphere with a number of religious buildings including the San Salvatore parish church.
Castellina in Chianti
Gagliole is a little gem that summarizes the beauty of Tuscany. The long, cypress-lined access road and the villa itself are a must see.
In addition to a 50 ha wine estate, Villa Teraqua also has 10 ha of olive groves.
Radda in Chianti
With its covered medieval alleys and typical Italian atmosphere, Radda in Chianti is undoubtedly the most beautiful town in the region, but it is also the most visited. The town still has its medieval elliptical ground plan and remains of the city walls. It is therefore pleasant walking in the streets between the many monuments, squares, restaurants, restaurants and shops. The Palazzo del Podestà is definitely worth a visit. This palace where the current town hall is housed was built in the 15th century but soon destroyed completely after the invasion of the Aragon troops. It was rebuilt and expanded in 1700 with the addition of the 2nd floor and the prison. For more than 4 centuries the lords of the podestà lived here, guarding the town. Their 51 coats of arms cas still be admired on the front of the palace. Just in front of the church of Propositura di San Niccolò you will find a sign explaining these coats of arms.
Radda in Chianti
Just as it was in the 12th century, the village still plays an essential role in the wine and oil production of Volpaia. The interiors of old houses, churches and underground corridors have been discreetly transformed into wine cellars, bottle plants and olive presses. Volpaia is not only a tourist attraction, but a flourishing business, with the town's residents all directly or indirectly involved in the winery.
The estate has been used for over 30 years by the Zonin family. Pater Familias Gianni Zonin's reorganized the vineyards to produce high quality grapes and restored the beautiful 16th century villa in all its glory. In addition to the main villa, the rural outbuildings were also refreshed. These are now used as guest rooms. A new winery was also built, in perfect harmony with the landscape.
Gaiole in Chianti
Gaiole in Chianti has emerged as a market square on the important trade route between the Chianti and the Valdarno region in the vicinity of the castles of Vertine, Montegrossi and San Donato in Perano. The castle lords all came to this place to trade their goods. This strategic location soon caused Gaiole in Chianti to become a real village. After WW II, the village, like almost all rural villages and towns, was becoming a ghost town. The people moved to the nearby cities of Florence and Siena.
Fortunately, the many beautiful abandoned farmhouses were rediscovered and renovated shortly thereafter, most of them being transformed into agritourism. As a result, Gaiole in Chiante has a very large range of holiday homes and farmhouses.
Gaiole in Chianti
The name Ricasoli has been closely linked with wine since 1141 when Brolio's castle was brought to the hands of the Ricasoli family. At the Brolio's winery you can get to know and appreciate the Chianti Classico area with a wine tasting.
Casanuova di Ama
This farm is located amid the breathtaking hilly landscape of Ama. The domain consists of 12 hectares of land: of which 5 are vineyards, 4 are planted with olive trees and 3 hectares of forests that surround the historic buildings of the farm.
Map of the Chianti region