Greve in Chianti: what to see, where to eat, what to do in this magnificent pearl of Chianti
Alla scoperta del Chianti in tutte le sue declinazioni, dal vino alla natura
Wine means Chianti and right in this territory there is a road that has every right to be called "the wine road" all over the world: this is the Chiantigiana.
The Chianti area is crossed entirely by the Via Chiantigiana, which runs from Florence to Siena. Several roads converge on it, including the Florence-Greve: leaving Porta Romana, you will pass through the towns of Galluzzo, Tarvanuzze, Terme di Firenze, Falciani, Fornace, Il Ferrone, Passo dei Pecorai, Testi and then the Via Chiantigiana towards Greti, to reach Greve: here you will proceed through a valley with a lush expanse of vineyards barely interrupted by cypresses.
Here we see the large village of Greve in Chianti, where the magnificent pearls of Montefioralle, Vitigliano, Vignamggio and San Michele await us.
Before entering the village of Greve, take the road on the right for San Cresci and Montefioralle. In San Cresci, there is a small church in typical Chianti Romanesque style, which contains a large crucifix and a Madonna from the 14th century.
To get to Montefiorialle, an ancient castle that belonged to the Buondelmonti family and was burnt down in 1325, you have to climb up a road: the village revolves around the Church of Santo Stefano. To find the best view of this pretty village, go down from Montecalvario or Montefili.
You will be enchanted by the flavour of times gone by, with its stone houses, oak shutters, arched porticos and that smell of must that takes us back in time.
Here we are in Greve, the largest town in Chianti Classico, which relives its nobility through the figure of Giovanni da Verrazzano and his brother, one a discoverer (among his most important discoveries was the Hudson Bay) the other a cartographer, born in the Castello di Verrazzano.
WHAT TO SEE:
Considered the gateway to Chianti. This lively town is famous for its distinctive square, which since the Middle Ages was the market place for the villages, castles and farms of the surrounding hills. The almost triangular-shaped square is flanked on three sides by large porticoes, which provide shelter from the rain and sun while shopping. In the centre is the statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, who discovered the Bay of New York. On the narrow side, you will find the church of Santa Croce of medieval origin, but with neo-Renaissance forms, which houses some precious works of sacred art, including a triptych with Madonna and Saints by Bicci di Lorenzo.
In the heart of the centre, don't forget to visit the Propositura di Santa Croce, with its neo-classical façade, built on the site of a medieval church, in which several works of art from nearby churches converge: among them the fresco of the Virgin Mary with Child and a triptych by Lorenzo di Bicci.
In the premises of the former Mirafiori Winery, an unmissable stop is the Wine Museum, where you can immerse yourself in two centuries of craftsmanship and wine-making tradition. The result of an uncommon documentary effort on the part of the Falorni family, the museum recounts through a splendid collection of objects the beating heart of the economic activity of the village, crossing the decades and passing from hand to hand to different owners, up to the current Falorni family, who have promoted the museum's activities.
The ancient tools for producing and bottling wine make way for tastings of the products, in a true multi-sensory experience in the past of this region; tasting and sampling excellent wine, accompanied by the splendid setting of Chianti, surrounded by the objects that have made its history, to fully enter the dimension of Chianti and its riches.
The Museum can only be visited during the wine tours that leave from the Enoteca Falorni, in Piazza Tirinnazzi in Greve in Chianti, every day at 11:30 am and 5:00 pm.
Enjoy the panoramic view of Greve di Chianti from the ascent of the San Francesco Museum of Sacred Art, from which you can see the whole valley of the river Greve. The museum is interesting for lovers of religious art, with archaeological insights into the artefacts found in the area.
Teatro Boito is a point of reference for the culture of the area with a good theatre and film programme. You can also visit the numerous local wine cellars to taste the Chianti Classico wine.
A visit is certainly worthwhile to the Pieve di San Cresci, a church of Romanesque architecture, a place of Catholic worship located in the Montefioralle area.
On a 350-metre hill, the Verrazzano Castle is not to be missed. Originally a Longobard fortification, it was built between the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. It was later transformed into a so-called gentleman's house and in the 17th century became a classic Tuscan villa and farm. In the castle, owned by the Florentine Da Verrazzano family, the illustrious explorer and navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano was born in 1485. A manuscript dating back to 1170 mentions the vineyards that were already in full production. A chapel is annexed to the castle and contains a painting by Ghirlandaio, the Eternal Father. Today the Castello di Verrazzano is a magnificent structure that houses cellars, vineyards, an agritourism and restaurant. For info and visits 055 854243 (open on 25 April).
He Italian writer, revolutionary and member of the Situationist International in the 1970s together with Guy Debord lived in San Cresci where today the Macina di San Cresci (www.chianticom.com), a residence for artists just a stone's throw from Montefioralle and Greve in Chianti, is located.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK:
Antica Macelleria Falorni (Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, 66, Greve in Chianti, ph. 055 853029)
Don't call it "just" a butcher's shop or simply a bistro: in the heart of Greve in Chianti, in Piazza Matteotti, the Antica Macelleria Falorni is a place of memory where you can rediscover a rural tradition of flavours and knowledge. The food experience at Falorni's starts in the fields where the pigs are reared in the wild and continues with the butcher's shop, where you can find numerous cuts and preparations already processed, ending less than ten steps away with the bistro both inside the premises (a medieval building, by the way) and outside, in front of the arcades. It is here, in this sort of bistro-restaurant, that you can sit down and enjoy a menu based on traditional Tuscan rural recipes: a menu that offers a wide choice including fettunte (toasted slices of bread), sandwiches, platters of local cured meats and cheeses, soups, veal tartare (130 g) with Dijon mustard, salads, desserts and a series of Grandma Beppa's recipes, both hot and cold. All accompanied by a selection of wines by the glass, also on a take-away basis. Just a few minutes' walk from the square, the Enoteca Falorni, with its 1000 labels, is the largest in the whole of Chianti. Here, in the basement of the historic centre - in what was once the first large wine cellar set up by noble landowners - at least 100 different labels are available for tasting.
Vitique (Greve in Chianti - via Citille, 43 - 055 933 2941 - www.vitique.it)
A restaurant and bistro that grew out of the experience at the Santa Margherita Tenimenti Toscani winery, Vitique offers research or contemporary cuisine more closely linked to the territory, which can be appreciated all around the estate. The restaurant's menu also offers three tasting courses, while the bistro, which is only open for lunch, invites you to a more agile experience with its midday offerings: cheeses and cured meats from the Falorni butcher shop, paccheri with white rabbit ragout, lemon and thyme, risotto with saffron pistils and vinsanto, and grilled beef fillet.
Mangiando Mangiando (piazza Matteotti, 80, ph. 055 8546372)
An excellent osteria with outdoor tables overlooking Greve's main square, Piazza Matteotti. Some of the unmissable dishes here include Bistecca alla fiorentina, peposo di Chianina and stracotto di guancia.
If you want to eat outdoors in the countryside, among the vineyards, try Terreno (via di Citille 4, Greve in Chianti, tel. 335 1536335), 5 minutes from Greve, where Sofia Bebban Ruhne had the vision to create this restaurant on her family's estate. It has several tables on the beautiful outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyards.
For a Chianti Classico experience, a visit with tasting in the cellar of the famous Tenuta Lamole di Lamole (Via di Lamole, Greve in Chianti, tel. 342 091 2853) is a must. It is like retracing the history of Chianti Classico and revealing its secrets. You will be welcomed into the Salotto di Lamole, from where you will move on to the winery to admire the Historic Vineyard (dating back to 1945) and the Experimental Vineyard: the technologically advanced vinification cellar will contrast with the Historic Cellar, where the large barrels for ageing the talented Sangiovese and the barriques for the maturation of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are located. Here is kept the "historical memory" of Lamole: the many dusty bottles, a memory of ancient harvests, testify to the ageing capacity of the wines born in this village of excellence. The visit ends with the Vinsantaia, where one of the symbolic products of Chianti Classico is slowly refined: Vinsanto, made using the traditional method. This is followed by a tasting of 4 wines paired with small samples of typical products. For info and reservations click here
WHERE TO SLEEP:
Vicchiomaggio Castle. Set in a historic 15th-century castle just outside Greve, Castello Vicchiomaggio produces and sells its own Chianti wine, and boasts a swimming pool with views over the Greve Valley. Decorated in an elegant, classic style, the rooms are a window to the incredible Chianti countryside. A buffet breakfast is served each morning, while the restaurant serves traditional Tuscan cuisine in a Renaissance-style dining room with vaulted ceilings. Open from June 15 a beautiful panoramic swimming pool from which you can enjoy a boundless view over the vineyards and the Chianti valley.For reservations and info click here
Borgo del Cabreo. A small farmhouse that has been completely renovated, a real Relais di Charme that offers hospitality in rooms where traditional Tuscan architecture blends perfectly with modern design. Situated on a hilltop, surrounded by elegant vineyards, Borgo del Cabreo enjoys a unique panorama with a 360 degree view. Set among the vineyards, a heated outdoor swimming pool awaits you.
On 1 May, the Flower Fair, on 3 May, the feast of Santa Croce, the patron saint of the village, and on the second weekend in September when the Chianti Classico festival takes place.