Chianti, a sip of culture! Today we leave from Borgo Grondaie to explore one of the most famous areas of Tuscany, Chianti. Especially known for the production of the wine of the same name, the Chianti hills are located in a vast area between the towns of Siena, Florence and Arezzo. Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti are the “historical” municipalities of the region. These three villages were the ancient terzieri (subdivision of several towns) of the Chianti League, set up as a defensive community under the auspices of the Florentine republic in fourteenth century. The coat of arms of the League was a Black Cock on a gold background, an image that became the symbol of Chianti Classico.
Let’s start our virtual tour with the town of Gaiole in Chianti located between Chianti and Valdarno, near the Massellone stream. Thanks to its strategic position, the country has always been a commercial center for the surrounding villages and castles, and because of this function, it was never fortified. What makes Gaiole a magical place is the presence of castles and ancient churches such as the church of Santa Maria of Spaltenna and Meleto and Brolio Castels. Meleto Castle was an ancient property of a feudal family. Its structure still has a military setting, with the presence of two cylindrical towers placed at the edge of the southern ramparts. Inside there are several furnished rooms decorated in eighteenth-century style and a theater with a stage and an original set design. Various medieval festivals and gala dinners are held in the Castle. Brolio Castle, of Lombard origin, since Middle Ages is the property of the Florentine noble family Ricasoli, which meant the building of a massive fortification due to the danger of its strategic location. Since the twelfth century, Ricasoli Family began production of the famous Chianti Classico and today it is the most ancient and long-lived winery in the world.
Radda in Chianti is a village near Siena surrounded by walls. Between an alley and other, it is not difficult to find many restaurants and wine bars to taste excellent local wines. Noteworthy is the Podestà Palace, headquarters of the Chianti League. You can visit the Museum of Sacred Art that houses several masterpieces of the fifteenth century. Those who were in the proximity of this picturesque medieval village in late May, can’t miss the opportunity to attend the event named Radda in the Glass, which this year will take place on 30 and 31 May 2015. During the event you can taste with producer best wines of Radda in Chianti with producers. Also in the days of Radda in Glass will be held an exhibition of Renaissance clothing in the ancient prisons of the Podestà Palace.
Third and last village of “Historical Chianti” is Castellina in Chianti, of Etruscan origin, surrounded by crenellated walls. Thanks to its strategic location, since the Middle Ages it has been the center of historical events and battles. The old town has a medieval structure, as it is shown by the countless alleys and Via delle Volte, a covered road set against the ancient walls. Among the places of interest we find the Medieval Fortress and the crenellated tower of the Church of San Salvatore that overlook the town square. The fortress now houses the town hall but was an ancient fortress of the fifteenth century. The neo-Romanesque church of San Salvatore dates from the sixteenth century. Inside we can admire an important fresco representing the Madonna Enthroned, ascribed to Bicci di Lorenzo (1373-1452), a wooden statue of the Renaissance of St. Barnabas, former patron of Castellina. Castellina in Chianti is also the center of the Tuscan gastronomic culture thanks to the presence of numerous wineries where you can taste the famous Chianti wine. In May there is the Pentecost in Castellina with wine tastings, traditional performances, street food and craft markets.