The Chianti region

Rightly or wrongly, most visitors tend to focus on either the Chianti region, which extends between Florence and Siena, or the Val D'Elsa, south of Siena. These regions are quite different. The Chianti region is made of lush hills, sometimes steep, dotted by vineyards, olive groves and woodlands. Nested throughout are small towns and ancient castle-villages that, despite the influx of visitors, still retain their original flavour: Greve in Chianti, Montefiorale, Rada in Chianti, Lamole, Volpaia, etc. The landscape of the region of Val D'Elsa is quite different and it is the one that is usually associated with Tuscan landscapes: rolling hay fields framed, lined or dotted by tall cypress trees.

There are so many towns and attractions in Tuscany that many visitors try to see all of them, rushing through and checking them out as in a "must see" list. What a missed opportunity to really appreciate what these sites have to offer!

If you are renting a car, we strongly suggest you choose a small town that you can use as a base and then make day-trips to other sites within easy driving distance.

Greve in Chianti

In the Chianti region, the town of Greve in Chianti is well placed as a base to explore the region. The town website is rich with info about places to visit and stay, events, tourist attractions, etc. Many premises can offer you reasonable accommodation.

There is a Coop in Greve, but we loved to shop at a nearby Grocery store (Frutta and Verdura) in Piazza delle Cantine, on the way to the central Piazza Matteotti from the public parking area. It is family run by Carmen and Vito Santaella. Fruits and vegetables are from their own little farm and the delicacies they sell are as fresh as you can find them (more in our travel journal).

A sample day trip

As mentioned, Greve in Chianti provides you a great base for exploring. The following could bee a typical day in the Chianti region if you stay in Poggio Asciutto (BUT it would apply as well if you stay in any other accommodation).
  1. Breakfast at Poggio Asciutto with a cappucino, fresh bread, cold cuts, etc. If you ask, we are sure that Massimo and Eva would not mind making a more substantial breakfast than a simple italian one.

  2. Drive up to Villa Vignamaggio, explore their enoteca, stock up in wine (though it will be expensive here!), there might be wine tasting as well, and check out their beautiful Italian gardens. Vignamaggio is where the Kenneth Branagh filmed his version of Shakespeare's "Much ado about Nothing", and, it is said it is where Monalisa was born.

  3. From Vignamaggio drive about 2 km to the Castle of Lamole, and the small village perched on the top of a hill. On the way you will have spectacular views of the Chianti region overlooking Greve.

  4. From Lamole you could drive back to Greve,
    but we suggest you continue driving eastwards on the road that will ultimately take you to Volpaia (a map or a GPS is strongly recommended). Volpaia is a beautiful, tiny, fortified village that goes back to the early 1100s and still maintain its traditional character. There is just a main road that goes through the town. The rest is a easy maze of little streets and alleys that have no motorized traffic. Easily explored, it provides great views over the surrounding valleys and hills. Renown also for its wine, there is a winery and wine tasting opportunities. Check the Volpaia website for further details.

From Volpaia, the drive back to Greve will take you through various other little towns such as Radda in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti. However, you will notice that by then you won't have lots of time left to explore and enjoy. You may also have noticed we did not mention many other gems in the Chianti region (e.g. San Gimigliano). That has to be your focus for another day.