Chianti in Tuscany is beautiful. But then, every region in Italy has its own splendor. Chianti’s charms lie in the rolling vineyards bedecked with castles and surrounded by quiet little villages.
September’s wanderings brought me to the Castello Verrazzano just outside of Greve in Chianti. The long single-lane driveway up to the castle left the main road and wound up through rolling vineyards, past the renovated stone farmhouse where I lodged, then ending at this picturesque estate. The views of surrounding vineyards, olive groves and neighboring hilltop castles were stunningly beautiful. I imagined myself staying here for a very long time.
An old stone farmhouse provided several rooms for lodging with a small central courtyard. Stonework was everywhere, backed by red geraniums. All around me was quiet and very still, an atmosphere that I cherish.
Each morning I would hike up to the castle from my room and enjoy a sumptuous breakfast feast nicely laid out on a long table. Hearty breads and chunks of white cheeses, fresh yogurt, sliced meats, fresh-baked pastries, ceramic pots of hot brewed coffee and tea all found their place and disappeared quickly. The views from here were even more astounding. A deck ran around the outside where I could sit and gaze at castles on hilltops surrounded by long green rows of vines. Olive orchards brought a different green to the scenery and grew in groves dotted about the countryside.
Several of the castles and villas are not only wineries. Many contain shops selling the bounty of the land. Shelves of wine, honey, balsamic vinegar and olive oil are plentiful. Colorful labels mark the items as products of Chianti, Tuscany. Many are cooking schools and hold classes in the art of Tuscan cuisine. I explored a couple of these estates.
Just a fifteen minute drive down the road is the Farm Querceto Castellina. Set on 117 acres of vineyards, the 16th century farmhouse has remained in its original condition. Architecturally intriguing and beautifully maintained, the farm also has a shop with winery products, cooking classes and a restaurant. I was welcomed with open arms and was greatly encouraged to ‘snoop’ about.
Surrounded in a natural environment of olive trees and vineyards, the Fattoria La Loggia is another equally unique winery. Not only do they provide rooms to stay, but they are a contemporary art mecca. Thought workshops and a creativity laboratory of permanent exhibitions of sculptures by noted contemporary artists are charmingly displayed around the farm.
All of these explorations took up a good part of the day. I found myself famished, so I turned my little fiat toward town. I wasn’t disappointed.
Dinner in Greve was perfect. I decided to try this cantina for two reasons. First of all, it was very rustic Italian, and secondly it was full of locals which is usually a very good indication of a worthy stop. People here are friendly and enjoy chatting among tables. My choice was a seafood pasta accompanied by a glass of Chianti Classico that was all delicious. In fact, the next day at the Castello Verrazzano winery tour, I recommended this cantina to a small group of tourists that wanted superb authentic Tuscan food at an affordable price. The Cantina Pizzeria fit perfectly.
I found my perch at the old castle where I wrote my memoirs. Words came tumbling out while my senses were engaged in pastoral scenery. As I took in the lush green ambience, I was reminded of an old quote from years ago…”in the stillness is the dancing.” How true, I thought to myself, how very true.