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sant appiano

The territory comprises an area of hill country situated between Florence and Siena, delimited on the east by the Chianti mountain range and on the west by the valleys of the Pesa and Elsa rivers

badia di passignano scorcio

Renowned the world over for its wine production, the Chianti territory is characterised by a continuous alternation of valleys and gently rolling hills covered in vineyards and olive orchards, but also by steep and solitary hillocks with oaks, cypresses, and pines. The entire area is sprinkled with hamlets of ancient origin, parish churches and abbeys, towered castles and fortresses, farmhouses and country estates, all architectures made of simple, warm materials such as alberese stone, pietra serena, and terracotta that over the course of time blended with the natural landscape to create the effect of picturesque harmony.

It is thought that the Etruscans were the first to cultivate grapevines; the zone was also subject to lengthy Roman rule. During the Middle Ages, it was the theatre of violent disputes between arch-rivals Florence and Siena that ended only in the mid-1500s with the final defeat of the Republic of Siena. After centuries of antagonism and rivalry, the eight municipalities of the Chianti symbolically signed an agreement, the “Pact of Pontignano”, which defined common rules for protecting and promoting their shared identity.

In 1932, a Ministerial Decree established the boundaries of the territories where Chiantiwine could be produced, extending them to a large part of the Tuscan provinces and going far beyond the traditional area of production. The decree also delimited the production zone of Chianti Classico wine, defining it as the "most traditional zone of origin" and granting a certificate of primogeniture as de facto recognition of a specific historical-cultural identity. To distinguish it from the Chianti wines coming from other areas of Tuscany, the wine produced in this zone could therefore bear the appellation Classico, which has the meaning: “the first”, “the original”.

Travelling on the Florence-Siena motorway or the Via Cassia, you pass through the territory of San Casciano in Val di Pesa, embellished by castles such as Gabbiano and Bibbione, country estates such as Albergaccio, where Niccolò Machiavelli lived in exile, and parish churches. The pleasant town is the site in mid-May, which celebrates flowers and the ancient art of bread-making.

Recommended visit: the Museum of San Casciano, divided into two sections, one for archaeology and the other dedicated to sacred art.

Further south you reach Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa, whose name derives from the ancient “taverne”, or roadside inns offering food and accommodation situated along the Via Regia, between Florence and Siena leading towards Rome. The town conserves a particularly rich and beautiful heritage of rural architecture; for example, there are many country parish churches, from the gothic Santa Lucia al Borghetto to the Romanesque San Pietro in Bossolo and San Donato.
One special event animates the town:
Tavarnelle si mette in mostra (Tavarnelle on Show), held on the second Sunday of every month.
Recommended visit: The abbey complex of
Badia a Passignano, with its appearance of a fortified village, founded by monks of the Vallumbrosan order in 1049.

Beyond Tavarnelle, you reach the hill town of Barberino Val d’Elsa, with large segments of the town wall, portals, Palazzo Pretorio, and the Spedale dei Pellegrini (pilgrim’s hospital) that bear witness to its medieval past. In the picturesque surrounding countryside, towards Valdelsa, you come to the ruins of the Castle of Semifonte, destroyed by the Florentines in 1202, now the site of the octagonal cupola of San Donnino, a scale reproduction of the Brunelleschi dome in Florence.

In May, Barberino has two special moments of celebration: at the beginning of the month with Barberino in fiore (Barberino in Bloom), and at the end of the month with the Festa medievale (Medieval Festival), with procession, music, dancing, and a medieval food and wine market.

Recommended visit: the historical nucleus of the town; the Romanesque church of Sant’ Appiano, with four cruciform pilasters that were part of the ancient baptistery.

 

The territory of Greve in Chianti is full of historical castles, once defensive bulwarks and today exclusive villas or renowned wineries. The town developed as a market site around the unusual triangular square surrounded by porticoes, still today used for markets and fairs such as the Mostra of the Chianti Classico (Chianti Classico Fair), an event not to be missed that takes place in September.
Recommended visit: the
Museo di Arte Sacra in the former convent of San Francesco, with paintings, sculptures, vestments and sacred furnishings, all bearing witness to the artistic vitality of the territory of Greve. In the environs is the delightful village of Montefioralle with the its stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets, as well as Panzano, with the lovely Romanesque church of San Leolino nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published: 7/4/2014

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