If you want to spend a day exploring Florence’s beautiful surroundings, you could take the unique path to discover one of Tuscany’s most famous areas: Chianti.
This is the territory wedged between the hills that run from Greve in Chianti to Siena, and marking one of the most harmonious and typical landscapes of the region.
In one day, you could visit two of the most important locations in this territory, which gives its name to a type of wine well known in the whole world.
The first stop needed, in order to reach the territory of the Chianti Classico, is the town Impruneta, which is at about 14 km from Florence. It can be reached by taking the road in direction of Pozzolatico, where, once Poggio Imperiale is passed, you will find yourselves into a rural world, far from the city, in a countryside filled with farms and villas, and huge estates where vineyards are grown. Impruneta is a very interesting location both for its superb square and for the fame of its cotto tile artisans.
In fact, this special material takes the name of Cotto of Impruneta. Artisan families pass on their skills and craft. Some old ovens are still active to this day and in the center of the town one can find many articles in cotto, from classical vases, to amphorae and jars, once used to store olive oil.
In fact, even olive groves “paint” the whole surrounding countryside with colors of silver and green. In this territory, olive trees provide an excellent extra virgin olive oil, with a fruity taste, fresh and rich and with a typical green color. One could enjoy it on a slice of Tuscan bread well toasted and rubbed with garlic, giving life to the “fettunta” (oily slice), the fast food from the past and that accompanies every stop in this itinerary characterized by landscape, monumental and culinary beauty.
In Impruneta, one could also taste a typical dish of the place called “Peposo” (Full of pepper). The name says it all. Peposo, means a lot of pepper, many aromas and strong tastes for a stew cooked in the inevitable terracotta pot and which needs to cook for many hours so that the pieces of meat are well braised and tasteful.
Next stop: Greve in Chianti
The trip can proceed towards the next stop, Greve in Chainti, the town that represents the cultural, economic and culinary center of the whole area.
Greve is located in a small valley, surrounded by gentle hills that offer an impressive view of plots of land with vineyards or olive groves and where, as per tradition, narcissuses, with their intense purple and yellow, grow in the fields and color the countryside with a profusion of colors and perfumes. Greve is at about 40 km from Florence and 20 from Impruneta.
Once you leave the “cotto” town you will need to follow the Chianti Classico road where you can spot the great estates of the area, Vignamaggio, Uzzano and Montefioralle, which offer visits and tastings of their products and, naturally, of their D.O.C.G. wines.
When you arrive into town, you will find yourself in the main square, Piazza Matteotti, vital center of Greve’s life. In almost all Tuscan villages, the central square covers an important role, with the government building first, which before would have been that of the Signoria, or the Municipal building during the period of the Unification, and now the mayor’s and municipal council’s quarters. In the square one can find the secular building, head of the government and on the other side of the municipal building, one can find the church dedicated to the religious life and traditions that still exist today also in the form of folklore and tourist curiosities.
The square is where the market and economic exchanges take place, as well as meetings and celebrations. The impact of entering the square from one of the small streets that lead to it is quite stunning.
You will find yourself in a big triangular space, surrounded by arched lodges, which provide a cool shelter during the hot summer days.
Giovanni da Verrazzano’s statue is imposing in the center. He was the explorer who was the first to explore the North American continent, where now is New York. He was born in the castle that still carries his name.
Under the lodges, one can find many shops that sell typical products. These vary from products made of weaved osier, such as beautiful baskets and panniers, to the inevitable cotto, to gardening utensils, including iris bulbs and other seeds, tools for the countryside, soap and cleaning products, and kitchen utensils.
At last, you will find the queen of all Greve shops: Falorni. Falorni is refined cured meats quality, excellent cheeses and delicious jams. Then, there is the one thing one cannot miss out on, “finocchiona sbriciolona” (which is a cured meat seasoned with fennel seeds), or homemade prosciutto, and Panzano sheep cheese (pecorino). One can taste these delicacies with wood burning oven baked Tuscan bread, and wine that can be picked from dozens of excellent labels.
After this enogastronomic stop, one can visit San Francis Museum or the Wine Museum, which was created in very old wine cellars and where one can discover the ancient history of wine or the old parish churches that are scattered around the territory, heading towards Panzano, within 10 minutes from Greve.
After an intense day out spent in the countryside and gentle hills, it is time to return back to the city and remember the sounds, the voices and the flavors of a unique place, where culture and landscape create a perfect harmony.