CHIANTI, NOT ONLY A WINE by Giovanni Raguso

Almost everyone in the world knows the Chianti wine. However, less are those aware that it is also a magnificent area of Tuscany. The deep bond between this high-quality wine and the Tuscan territory has produced tourism havens such as Montalcino, a hill town and comune in the province of Siena, known for its Brunello wine, or Montepulciano, a medieval and Renaissance hill town whose Nobile wine is considered to be among Italy’s best. The beauty of the D’Orcia Valley is world-renowned. Time seems to slow down for picturesque towns like Pienza, a real jewel known as the “Ideal City” and the beautiful Palazzo Piccolomini. Less known are other areas in the Chianti region, which in addition to being home to the famous wine, also has several medieval villages. Greve, sitting in the Val di Greve, named for the small, fast-flowing river that runs through it, is the principal town in the Chianti wine district which stretches south of Florence to just north of Siena.  Panzano, a hamlet of Greve in Chianti, whose area was already inhabited in Etruscan times as shown by the discovery of a stele dating back to the 5thCentury BC. Castellina, a municipality of approximately 2,800 inhabitants in the province of Siena, which is part of the Chianti Hills, between the valleys of the Arbia, Pesa and Elsa rivers.

  From a geographical point of view the boundaries of Chianti are not clearly defined, but the territory can be considered as the portion of land between the provinces of Florence and Siena.In some cases, guides tend to divide the Chianti into “fiorentino” and “senese”, but this happens above all in reference to the wine production. The Chianti region offers its visitors a succession of unique landscapes, characterized by gentle and green hills, wide expanses of vineyards and olive groves, small villages, characteristic churches and stone farmhouses.

  Considered by many to be a hidden gem within the Chianti region, we find Gaiole.  Located to the east of Radda, Gaiole offers a panoramic insight into the Medieval battles for the territory’s dominance, some of which ruled these lands for over a hundred years: from the Medici family, the Ricasoli family, from the Guelphs to the Ghibellines and the continuous wars for the regional supremacy between Florence and Siena. These continuous conflicts stimulated the construction of fortified villages, castles, and the numerous watchtowers in the surrounding area that can all be visited today, many of which have been transformed into beautiful accommodations in Chiant the border between elegant villas and renovated farmhouses.

  Surprisingly enough, the wine tradition of Gaiole was born from all this chaos which led to the production of the famous Chianti Classico. Gaiole has, as a matter of fact, the largest winery in the Chianti Classico area: the Brolio Castle. This is where a nobleman, Baron Bettino Ricasoli invented the Chianti formula in 1872. Excellent wine that varies according to the composition of the soil, intensity of the sun and rain. In Gaiole we also find a corner of heaven: Borgo Argenina. Run by Elena, a lovely Italian woman, Borgo Argenina is a B&B in the heart of Gaiole which offers a breathtaking experience.

   Having breakfast and relaxing surrounded by the Tuscan hills and the panoramic scenery while staying in one of the seven rooms and villas is one of the many perks of Borgo Argenina. The B&B is located 20 minutes north of Siena by car in the Chianti region and Elena also offers cooking classes and can arrange wine tasting.

Go to Borgo Argenina

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