The part of Tuscany known as Chianti is a renowned wine region, approximately including the southern province of Florence and the northern province of Siena.
Situated in the heart of Tuscany, the Chianti area is known to be a vary interesting touristic place, mainly because of its hilly landscape, which is amongthe most inspiring and enchanting in this region.
The several itineraries will prove to be pleasant and natural because of the genuine charme of the landscape, the hilly cultivated land, the long acres of vineyards, the olive groves, cypresses and woods which are set naturally around very precious castles, villages, Romanesque and medieval parish churches and old farmhouses. Every corner is a surprise, every slope is a wonder and all that will make the tour interesting and pleasant.
And, what about the "royal" excellent Chianti, the ruby red wine (rarely also white), dry, full-bodied and rightly tannic in its savour that represents the ultimate pleasure for those having a refined palate and which makes the Italians so proud of it?
The wealth of this area of Tuscany is bound since centuries to wine production and the cultivation of specific typologies of grape. Sangiovese and black Canaiolo for the red wine, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia for the white wine, are the two typologies which made this edge of Tuscany famous all over the world.
But Chianti doesn't mean only good wine. The welfare obtained through wine production has fostered the growth of small villages and pleasant towns, which hide real masterpieces of the Tuscany art and architecture. While driving through the streets of Chianti, it is not usual to meet medieval villages, untouched town walls, abbeys or Romanic parishes, keeping inside real jewels of the Tuscan school. Not to forget also the even more ancient archaeological finds of Roman and Etruscan origin.
All this richness is topped by an uncontaminated nature, with sweet hills moulded by the work of farmers. The olive trees alternate with vineyards, straight and ordered, dominated by splendid farm houses. Colours have nuances shifting from the intense green of the woods, to the red of Siena’s bricked buildings and the violet of grapes.
Chianti offers a complete holiday: good food, good wine, incredible natural and artistic beauties, and a wide choice of outdoor activities, from cycling to hiking and trekking, from golf to indoor sports. Last, but not least, from the area of Chianti you can easily reach the coast and the two major cities of Tuscany, Florence and Siena, but also Pisa, Livorno and Grosseto.
Short History of the Chianti area
According to some people the name Chianti means a loud twittering of birds, or clangour, or even takes its origins from the Etruscan word "Clante". It was the Etruscans in fact who first left traces of their great civilization in diffirent places of this area, as for example the well-known sepulchre of Montecalvario near Castellina.
After the Etruscans, The Romans settled here raising high fortresses that can still be seen in the remaining boundary marble stones of the parsonage of S. Marcellino.
In the 8th century the Chianti area belonged in part to the feud of Firidolfy family, the ancestors of the Ricasoli. In that feud the land was organized into courts like the old Roman imperial villas. The so-called “curtes” were under the power of a single owner who ran and protected the several, great land estates which were yearned by both the Sienese Bishops and those from Arezzo until the 12th century.
After the short reing of the Seignory belonging to the marchesi of Tuscany, the long struggle between Florence and Siena began.
Both competed bravely for the precious Chianti area for a long time (12th century).
For the first time people began raising walls around the castles to protect the courts and villages, and some castles became the outpost from which to control and defend people against the assaults of the enemy. After ups and downs the two towns ended up by singing the peace agreement of Fonterutoli (1201) in virtue of which the boundaries between Florence and Siena were marked out.
Very charming is the legeng (perhaps thought up by the Florentines) that tells of this peace. To demarcate their ownterritories without fighting, the Sienesi an Florentines decided that at cock-crow a knight from each town would gallop off up to the spot where he would meet his rival. In this way each town would become the owner of the land ridden across by each knight. To wake up their knight, the Florentines used a black rooster that had not eaten the day before and that, therefore, crowed before dawn.
Gallopping off earlier, the Florentine knight met the Sienese Knight near Fonterutoli and so Florence managed to annex the greatest part of the Chianti area.
The black rooster was taken from the legend and made the symbol of the Chianti.
Legend aside, the historical struggles in the area not to come to an end with the peace of Fonterutoli. In fact, in 1363 the Chianti was plundered by a mercenary troop enlisted by Pisa and then, towards the and of 1300, by Alberico Barbiano who had entered the service of the Visconti.
After a short periode of peace, the Aragoneses in agreement with the Sienesi, assaulted and conquered the Florentine terriories and castles. Once the Aragoneses had left, Florence moved to the attack and got the upper hand, but this time the tenacious Siena formed an alliance with Charles V who annexed most of Chianti castles plundering and sacking the whole area.
Only with the violent battle of Marzana in 1554 did Siena succeed in driving him back. In 1859 following the Unification of Italy, Radda, Gaiole and Castellina got their independence and came under the Sienese local authority once again.
The Region of Chianti Classico from an economic Point of View
In 1830 baron Bettino Ricasoli, the father of Chianti wine, decided to industrialize agriculture in order to increase the rate of productivity.
Since then many have gone by giving way to several important social changes which have transformed the Chianti area and economic crises that have alternated with sudden increases in productivity.
Let’s start from the beginning: in the 19th century the Chianti landscape was dotted with a few village and big farm-houses where the noble families used to enjoy their holidays.
Agriculture was still bound to archaic system of cultivation.
Unlike all other crops that grew here and there and were directly taken by farmers for personal use, wine was sold and exported.
The cultivation system on terraces was very complicated but it spured farmers to reach higher rates of productivity. More and more land was then brought under crops, new countryhouses mushroomed everywhere, special vines were selected and all estates were re-organized according to capitalist principles. This progress took place without the marvellous, natural landscape being damaged.
The first decade of this century was characterized by the economic crisis that caused the strong reduction in wine prices, due also to the grape phylloxera. After the Second World War, the economic slump was evident and many farm-workers and share-croppers had to flee from the land, leaving such estates that had been cultivated by their ancestors with so much care. In the 70’s vine growing was re-evaluated thanks to the coveted law of 1967 in defense of DOC wines.
Enthusiasm was in the air and people began working hard in the Chianti vineyards. The landscape found the right balance again.
Since then the land devoted to wine production has been so much extended that today vineyards cover 6500 acres of this region. Moreover, the old cellars of the farmhouses have been granted modern agricultural machinery and implements.
The few shops in this area have increased in number and quality; restaurants, trattorie and HOTELS are in competition against important AGRITURISTIC CENTRES set up in over 1000 villas and farms and whose prices vary according to the different categories and available comforts (swimming-pools, tennis-court, TV, cocktail cabinet) they range from 450 Euro to 1500 Euro for two people per week.
The silver leaves of Chianti olive-trees have become as famous as the wine. The smell of the olives is pleasant, the pungent savour is ever more appreciated by experts, even through quality is not often combined with as much quality. One Chianti olive-tree yields about two litres of olive oil at most, that is one tenth of wat an olive-tree yields in another region.
Nevertheless, the Consortium of Extravirgin Chianti Classic Olive Oil "Terre del Gallo Nero", which has been founded recently, has classified Chianti olive oil Doc.
For your Wedding in Chianti