Chianti Update

September 20, 2006

A much delayed update on an August visit to the Chianti region of Tuscany. This remains a place where one feels at ease not doing much and not planning to do much.

A few short day trips, a few hikes through the vineyards, a cooking lesson, an afternoon just lounging by a pool, a lunch at a local trattoria with a glass of house wine and a nap outside. One could feel totally away from the world and totally content.

Places worth visitng in the summer:

Village of Volpaia: a fairy tale, well preserved hamlet with 40 residents, 3 restaurants, 3 churches and a cooking school. Hidden inside this 11th century outpost is a modern vinery making Chianti Classico, Balifico and a olive oil production facility. A few villas available for rent surround this mountain top settlement. Most have fabuolous 30-mile views of the surrounding mountains, vineards and fortresses. Much of the property in the village and outside is owned by a single family whose father originally acquired the property as a hunting reserve. Wonderful people, great food – you will want to eat pasta with black truffles every day, and more importantly the place has a great, laid-back atmosphere that makes everyone welcome.

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Radda in Chianti – another, larger moutaintop town – charming, mostly quiet, great corner deli. Great ceramics shopping in town and close by, e.g. Ceramichi Rampini.

Badia Caltibruno – a well preserved castle with a top notch restaurant and cooking school

Castello di San Donato in Perano – views, views, great restaurant.

Castello di Meleto – well preserved medieval town surrounded by vineyards. Aslo Castagnoli.

Gaioli in Chianti – mostly a center of the wine bottling industry, not really worth spending much time on.

Castellina in Chianti – a lovely walking town. Some of the best ice cream we have ever had, – anywhere

Church of Santa Maria Novela – between Volpaia and Radda in Chianti – well preserved early Romanesque church with fabulous views. Worth a stop.

Greve in Chianti – the centre of town is quite touristy, the surrounding countryside contains interesting places to stay.

If you decide to rent a villa in Chianti or other parts of Tuscany, – try for two weeks or at least a week in one property and a week in another, e.g. the Tuscan coast.

Going with kids – if you decide to take children to Europe, Italy is the place to go. Italians are a very friendly people in general and particularly sensitive and tolerant of little kids. We have also observed Italians bring their own kids everythere they go themselves, – like for e.g. the Croatian Coast. It is difficult to imagine a better environment especially for smaller kids.

The pulse of Italy: having visited Italy twice in the last six months, we would share one specific observation – Italians are a happy people. If you want to get a sense for the state of the national psyche in the US you’d go to a Starbucks or a McDonalds, in Britain you’d stop at a pub, and in Italy one should go to a rest area off a major autostrada in August. This is the time when it seems that the entire Italian nation heads for vacation and the rest areas and their food and coffee shops and parking lots are filled with caravans of families and large groups of friends. These rest areas become meeting places, movable lounges, with people meeting, hugging each other, laughing, sharing food and drink – there is an atmosphere of a global party.

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One Response to “Chianti Update”

  1. Amado Says:

    Pretty Interesting.


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