THE CHIANTI REGION
The Chianti region, the production area of one of the world's most renowned wines of Italy, comprises the province of Florence and Siena. This area is rich in rolling hills, cultivated fields, woodlands, tall cypress trees, vines and olive groves, in an idyllic setting that recalls the 15C Sienese paintings.
The area was first settled by the Etruscans - the ancient Italian people who inhabited this region and from which the name ‘Tuscany‘ is derived - and then by the Romans whose republic assimilated that of the Etruscans around the first century BC.
The control and ownership of the Chianti area was fiercely contested almost continuously from the Middle Ages until the Renaissance by the leading powers of Siena and Florence. The many castles, fortresses and defensive structures which are found throughout the region bear testimony to this.
Today, visitors arrive in Chianti to visit the many historical remains, wander the well-preserved Mediaeval towns, sample the region's acclaimed cuisine and taste the famous Chianti wines.
The present name of this area probably dates from the 13C.
The vineyards of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes - that are mixed to produce Chianti, are set out in tidy rows on land that, since the days of the Grand Dukes, has been rich in farmhouses, villas, castles and turretted villages.
There are many organised wine-tasting tours on offer to visitors which range from a few hours to days long. Alternatively you can plan your own wine tasting tour taking in any particular area or wineries that most interest you.
Greve in Chianti
If you are arriving in this region from Florence, Greve is the first of the Chianti towns you will come and for this reason, it is often referred to as ‘The Gate to Chianti'.
Greve was once the market place for the inhabitants of the beautiful Castle of Montefioralle, which sits above Greve. From these humble beginnings, Greve flourished and in the following centuries became a real town.
The site of the ancient market place is still the town's focal point - the Piazza Matteotti - a strangely triangular shaped surrounded by porticos, which now plenty of house cafes, restaurants, artisan workshops and gelaterias. The Piazza Matteotti is also the location of the Santa Croce church, with its 14th century frescoes, the Town Hall and the large statue dedicated to Giovanni da Verrazzano, the famous explorer, who was born nearby.