One of the many things I love about Florence is that there are so many small villages and towns just outside the city. Each town is typically famous for a certain type of food or drink they produce, and it can be really fun to visit and see how the special product is actually made and then have the opportunity to taste it! Chianti is just a short, hour or so, few-euro SITA bus ride outside Florence – perfect for a day trip.
If you’re looking for a peaceful day outside the city, Chianti, a wine-region in Tuscany, is a great place to go try some of Italy’s best-tasting wines and some of the freshest extra-virgin olive oil in the world. Not to mention, the famously Tuscan pictures of rolling hills, vineyards, cypress trees, olive groves and stone farmhouses are all taken here.
On my day trip to Chianti, my friends and I traveled to Panzano. It was originally an Etruscan settlement and is the oldest and most populated village in the region. We hiked through Panzano for a few hours before wine tasting and an Italian meal. Tolerating 90-degree heat in the summer sun was well worth it, because we explored the vineyards where the Sangiovese grapes are grown for making Chianti wine. On our hike, we took gorgeous, seemingly photoshoped, pictures and saw: Panzano Castle, Santa Maria Church, and La Pieve di San Leolino Church—all noteworthy to the history of the town, dating all the way back to the 10thcentury!
Re-entering the city center, we made my favorite stop of the day: Antica Macelleria Cecchini—a very famous butcher shop owned by Dario Cecchini. Even the outside of the building has personality with its red and white horizontal stripes. Right when you walk in, you’re welcomed with offerings of wine; bread with fresh olive oil and herbs, or the famous lardo (yes, it’s lard) spread; and of course a variety of meats that are in season. You’ll definitely want to hang out in this place for awhile because of the great atmosphere. Dario was even trying to give away a couple of his young Italian workers’ numbers to my single American friends! It was pretty entertaining, to say the least. I walked away with some bread and meat seasonings as a gift to my parents – awesome because they vacuum seal them, so they’ll survive the wait and the plane ride home.
After a few hours of hiking, all of us were famished and pretty excited to taste some of the best wine of Italy. We had a tour of Lorenzo Sassolini’s wine cellar followed by the group wine tasting and lunch. If you want to sample a few wines in his cellar, it’s completely free and open from 12:00-18:00 Monday through Friday. I recommend the full experience of tasting all of the wines accompanied by Italian meats, cheese, breads, and pastas! Groups of ten or more can organize a full tasting, and lunch inside the historic villa, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling (+39) 328962 5807.
So far, visiting Panzano in Chianti has been one of my favorite day trips! It’s the perfect little getaway from the often super-touristy Florence in the summer!
Ciao a tutti!