Are you thinking about visiting Italy, namely the beautiful Chianti area? If that is the case, you might want to read a bit about its history and everything it has to offer. It is a large area and it has plenty of things to see and do, which is why enthusiastic tourists like yourself almost never leave unprepared. What follows might help you get a better sense of what you would enjoy the most. The first part of the article will focus on the history of the area, while the second will provide you with a list of some of the most interesting sights and activities.
The rich history of the Chianti area
The Chianti area is a region located between Siena and Florence, two cities that themselves have a long and turbulent history. The area has been inhabited for thousands of years, making it an interesting find for all the history buffs out there. The first traces of settlements were left by the Etruscans, a tribe that introduced the methods of wine production and thus made the area what it is today – a part of Italy celebrated for one of the most famous brands of wine.
During the era of the Roman Empire, the Etruscans who lived in Chianti were gradually absorbed by the great nation in question. The area flourished, mostly thanks to the introduction of agriculture. After the Empire was destroyed and the barbarians started invading it, Chianti became, like most other places in Italy, a place of decay. It wasn’t until the Franks and the Longobards claimed it that it started flourishing once again.
During the Middle Ages, Siena and Florence became centers of papal power and culture. After a long fight that finally ended in the early 13th century, Florence gained control over the Chianti area. This was the period when many settlements called borgo were formed throughout the region. Most of them were located on hilltops and had houses built around either a church or a castle.
During the first six centuries of the Common Era, Chianti developed from an area predominated by feudal structure to one characterized by mezzadria. The system was a form of sharecropping in which the landowner was responsible for providing housing and everything that was necessary for the production of goods. The area of Chianti remained the territory Siena and Florence fought over, which resulted in a near destruction of the land in the 15th century. In the meantime, Chianti wine became so appreciated that it received official recognition by the Grand Duke of Tuscany. That is how Chianti became the area we now know and admire.
Things to see and do in the Chianti area
Explore the hilltop villages
As we have already mentioned, the Chianti area is full of charming medieval hilltop villages. This is why visiting places such as Greve, Gaiole, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Radda, Panzano and Castellina is considered a must for any enthusiastic tourist. There you will be able to immerse yourself in gorgeous scenery, as well as the atmosphere characteristic of lovely Italian churches, piazzas, bars and restaurants.
Visit Poggibonsi's fortress
Poggibonsi is one of the places to visit in Chianti if you like history and historical monuments. It features a gorgeous fortress built by the Medici family, known as Fortezza di Poggio Imperiale, in Italian, as well as some stunning medieval churches and fountains, such as the Convento di San Lucchese and the Fonte delle Fate.
Admire some of the most beautiful Italian churches
It could be said that you haven’t truly seen Italy until you have checked some of its churches off the list. If this is something you would find enjoyable, you will probably love the Chianti area. Some of its most beautiful churches include Pieve di San Cresci, Basilica di S. Maria and Pieve di Sant’Appiano.
Get to see some stunning works of art
If you are into art and culture, museums are probably somewhere at the top of your list. If that is the case, the Chianti area won’t disappoint you. Some of its most popular museums include the Museum of Sacred Art, the Museum of the Treasury of Santa Maria dell’Impruneta and the Antiquarium di Sant Appiano a Barberino val d’Elsa.
Taste the world-famous wine
And when you are in Chianti, you can’t go without tasting its most famous products. Wine is certainly at the top of the list, which is why there are plenty of fun and exciting wine tasting tours available. Fattoria Viticcio is one of the best places to do it – it is located in Greve and offers tastings all week long. Other wineries you can’t miss are Fattoria Dievole, Borgo Scopeto, Fattoria di Corsignano and Tolaini.
Immerse yourself in the smells of charming outdoor markets
Going to a market is yet another way to make sure your stay in the Chianti area is memorable. You will find them in almost every town, and they will provide you with the opportunity to smell and taste delicious food and spices, as well as buy some unique souvenirs.