Saturday, October 2, 2010

Un Giro in Chianti: A Tour in Chianti

Here I am in Chianti!

This week I lucked upon a great, inexpensive tour of the Chianti region south of Florence, sponsored by the Florence Tourism Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce. For only 15 euros, each Thursday it is possible to enjoy a day-long guided tour entitled "Artisans in Chianti." The tour visits 4-5 small villages, stopping to visit artisans, churches and farms. We left Firenze at 9 a.m. and returned at 6 p.m.

The towns we vistited were Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa, Barberino Val d'Elsa, Greve in Chianti and Montefioralle.

The tour was led by Marco, a native to the area, who had wonderful stories to share. Here he explains the unusual history of an ancient church, Sant'Appiano, dating back to the 11th century.

Tavarnelle in Val di Pesa

Some of the crafts we saw in Tavarnelle.

Included in the tour are several stops at farms that produce wine, olive oil, cheeses, meats and jams, where we were able to eat and drink enough for several meals! The vendemmia (wine harvest) was in process, so we often saw trucks filled with grapes along the highway, en route to be processed for wine.

Our first "tasting," which included wine, olive oil, bread, cheeses, prosciutto and jams.

The village of Montefioralle, with vineyards in the foreground.

A scene in Montefioralle.

The second stop, where we tasted olive oil with bruschetta and Chianti Classico wine.

There were 17 of us in the group (all couples except for me, mostly Americans), but it was not the usual tourist fare, as many of the villages we visited are rarely seen by tourists. In fact, the tour is intended to bring more attention to these areas and their artisans, so they can continue to survive from the art and food that they produce. There was no pressure to buy anything, but after tasting the food, many people were eager to take some home with them.

The Chianti landscape, complete with vineyards.

Everyone enjoyed the tour, but who wouldn't? We were feeling pretty good by the end of the day, pleasantly sated by good food and wine. There are two itineraries available with this tour, so I hope to have the chance to take another tour with Marco this month.

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