The heart of the Chianti region is Greve in Chianti. The town lies in the middle of a valley cultivated with vineyards and olive trees, close to the river Greve.
The first settlements in this area of Tuscany date back to the Etruscan age, but it was in the Middle Age that the town began to grow, in the shade of the Castle of Montefioralle at the beginning, then in autonomous way.
Being in the middle of an important cross-roads for trades and passages, Greve saw the birth in its territory of an hospital for pilgrims and travellers, managed by the company of the Bigallo in Florence, and a Franciscan convent, which is visible only in the church of San Francesco. But the main vocation of Greve has been, above all, that of representing a trade place for people and goods, in other words, a market.
Piazza Matteotti, the main square of the town, acted exactly as a market and trade place. Judging from its size, it is easy to figure out the volume of goods and merchants who enriched the village over the centuries.
The economic importance of Greve was consecrated during the Leopoldine age, when the town was chosen as one of the possible capitals of the region.
Piazza Matteotti is also the liveliest place in town, especially in summer. The square architecture has been embellished at the beginning of the century with terraces supported by porches facing the square self.
Under these porches stand numerous shops: butchers, craftsman shops, bars and cafés. In the middle of the square stands the statue dedicated to Giovanni da Verrazzano, one of the major navigators and explorers of the 16th century, who crossed the Ocean many times before being killed by the cannibals in the Antilles.
The fountain was built in 1913 in honour of this illustrious citizen, who was born in Val di Greve in 1485.
The aspect of Greve is quite modern, although some buildings testify the medieval origin and the successive historic influences. On one side, Piazza Matteotti is occupied by the Church of Santa Croce, built in the Middle Age and restored during the 19th century with neoclassical elements, like the porch with two columns and three arcades. Inside are kept some works of remarkable value: la Madonna e i Santi by Maestro di Greve, and the Annunciazione della Vergine Maria by Bicci di Lorenzo.
In the vicinity of Greve, the Oratory of San Francesco is worth a visit, where you can see the polychrome group made in terracotta representing the Deposizione, le tre Marie and i tre Santi.
The above mentioned church also deserves a visit, where a work in terracotta by Santi Buglioli is kept.
In the surroundings of Greve in Chianti:
Church of San Cresci in Montefioralle