A Drive Through the Chianti Region

Beautiful Scenery and Delicious Wines

Author: The Traveling Professor/Tuesday, September 23, 2014/Categories: Italy

Rate this article:
After considering a less expensive tourist bus tour, we decide to hire a car from myTour, a company known  for their “Chianti Roads Tour”.   The cost of the tour is 60 euro per person.   On the itinerary is a guided tour of three towns in Chianti finishing with a wine tasting.

I schedule the pick-up for 1 p.m. outside our hotel in central Florence.   The late-model Mercedes minivan is there and ready to go at precisely 12:45.   Valerio is our driver for the day.   He speaks English with a rich Italian accent.

It’s a speedy Italian-style ride through the winding and narrow city streets into the hills overlooking Florence, going where no tour bus would dare to go.   Valerio short-cuts through the hilly high-rent district of Florence.  The car comes so close to the stone walls along the streets that a thin slice of prosciutto would hardly fit between the two.

Before we know it, we are outside the city.   Our first stop is the impeccably manicured Florence American Cemetery.  Over 4,400 stones mark the final resting place of Americans lost during World War II.  The burial ground is majestically situated, rising up a hill towards a memorial marked with a tall pylon.

The roads are practically empty now, save for the occasional bicyclist training for the next race.  The tiny Chianti towns are simply charming.   Most are situated on top of a hill.  The stone buildings have terracotta roofs and wooden doors.  Valerio explains that at this time of year, the grape harvest has been over for a month or so, but we can see the farmers shaking the trees to release the green olives.

For our pleasure, or perhaps for his need of another cigarette, Valerio pulls over at nearly every scenic overlook.    The vistas remind me in some ways of the Napa Valley in California.  That is until I see a couple of boys kicking a soccer ball in a field below.

A stop on the tour is Greve in Chianti.   The town square is touristy, so I bring my group around the block, behind some stores and downstairs to La Cantine, a centuries-old restored wine cellar.   The tasting room employs a unique system to taste any of their 140 or so wines and olive oils.  A credit card sized “Wine Card” is purchased in any denomination.   Put the card in the dispenser and the wine or olive oil is automatically poured.   Then, the Wine Card is debited appropriately.   I found Super Tuscan wines as expensive as 3.80 euro per pour, and others for as little as .60 euro.    

The next destination is Monteriggioni.  It is a 13th century village within a hilltop castle, protected by perfectly preserved stone walls, and surrounded by olive trees.   There are very few tourists here and Valerio expertly maneuvers the Mercedes through the hilly streets and narrow archways, onto the main Piazza Roma, sparing us a long walk from the parking lot outside.   I walk the ramparts of the outside walls, imagining the residents of centuries ago, hauling water from the well, happily protected by the thick and strong stone walls.

We stay long enough for Valerio to have a few more cigarettes and a couple of cafés.  Then, it is off to the winery.   We arrive at Sant’Appiano, tucked into a corner of Chianti.  It is small, with 17 hectares (about 42 acres) of vineyards and 11 hectares of olive groves.   The owner, Barbara, expertly explains the process of growing grapes and making wine.   She welcomes questions and then brings us into the tasting room in the stone cellar.  First up is a Toscana Rosati.  It is a light rosé, perfect for summer drinking.    After a swirl of the glass and a few sips it is followed by a “Super San Sangiovese”.  It’s dark, full bodied, with a sweet vanilla smell.  We also taste a Syrah and a variety of olive oils.   However, the standout of the day is a blended “Super Tuscan”.  It is an award-winning wine, spicy with hints of blackberry, aged in French oak.

The skies have become dark and it is time to return to Florence.   During the 30-minute trip back to our hotel, some of us doze off while Valerio brags about the superiority of the Italian footballer and Formula race-car driver.    In front of our hotel we bid Valerio “arrivederci” and thank him for a wonderful day in Chianti.

Number of views (2083)/Comments ()

«November 2019»

10 Things You NEED to Know About Your Passport

best passport tipsOf course, a passport is the most valuable travel document. If it's lost, it could ruin a trip. There are a few things travelers should know about passports and The Traveling Professor has a few good tips for you. Read today's blog post to be all up-to-date on what you need to know about your passport, The Professor has all the good tips for you and here are his Top 10 passport tips.
Read more

The Professor's Top Secret Rome Restaurant List

best Rome restaurant listOf course there is the Colosseum, the Borghese Gallery and the Pantheon.  But no one goes to Rome to see that anymore. We go there to eat!  And there are many places to eat in Italy.  In this blog post The Professor posts his "Top Secret" places to eat in Italy. Some of the places are fancy, some are casual.  But they are all worth visiting on your next trip to Rome.  But please, you must promise to tell no one else about these super secret spots.  Enjoy!
Read more

What You Need to Know About Buying Travel Insurance

how to get free travel insuranceOn almost every small group tour The Traveling Professor runs, there seems to be at least one traveler who is delayed or worse yet, needs to cancel a trip. Sometimes The Professor can recoup some of the costs for a trip but not always. Trip insurance can protect a traveler.  So the questions are, do you really need travel insurance? What kind of insurance do you need? Where can you get it?  Check out today's blog post to find out more.
Read more

Easy Tips for Getting Through the Airport FAST

how to get through airports fastThe worst part of travel these days is flying. There are lines, lines, and more lines. The airlines treat travelers like cattle, the airports aren't much better. But there are ways to expedite the dreaded time needed to wait on lines for security checks and passport control. Read The Traveling Professor's blog post for these easy tips in getting through the airport quickly.
Read more

Where to Eat in Copenhagen, Oslo and Bergen

small group tours to NorwayWe love taking our travelers on small group tours to Norway and Copenhagen. There is so much to see and do. And after a long day of doing all the stuff we love to do in these cities, it is time to sit down and have a great meal. Cuisine in Copenhagen, Oslo and Bergen is more than just fish.  It is an eclectic mix of different varieties of food.  In this quick list we have for you, there are plenty of good choices on your next trip to Oslo, Copenhagen, and Bergen.
Read more

Which Travel Credit Card is the Best?

which travel credit card is bestFirst question is, what is a travel credit card? A travel credit card is a credit card that gives certain benefits to travelers.  Some of those benefits might be miles or points, travel insurance, or reimbursement for Global Entry application fees. For those who travel frequently, it is a good idea to consider a travel credit card. Every traveler has different needs and wants in a travel credit card.  In this blog post, The Traveling Professor reviews the top 3 cards travelers should consider. 
Read more

10 Great Gifts for the Traveler

travel gifts

Everyone seems to be traveling these days, so a holiday gift for the traveler in your life seems appropriate for the upcoming gift giving season. The Traveling Professor takes travelers on about 15 small group tours every year.  He gets to see what travelers are using, what their needs are, and what they would like to get from you this Christmas.  In this blog post, The Traveling Professor has culled together a collection of 10 of his best travel gift ideas. He's picked all sorts of gifts for all sorts of travelers. Take a look at The Professor's Top Ten Holiday Gifts for Travelers.  Happy Holidays!

Read more