Italy’s Chianti Area and Wine Tasting

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

When I first inquired about a tour in Tuscany to the Chianti wine area, I wasn't quite prepared for the unique experience it turned out to be. It was one of the best days I had in Italy and I would highly recommend this to anyone spending time in Tuscany.

Chianti is a large wine producing zone in Italy which encompasses the provinces of Florence and Siena in Tuscany. Its borders are not strictly defined but it covers this area, extending to the Val d'Elsa in the west and to the Valdarno in the east.  Just driving in this area is a beautiful experience through the rolling hills, with row after row of vineyards and olive trees that never seem to end.

A wonderful guide named Marco transported me into the wine country of Chianti, where I was able to visit two family run wineries. I was with a small group of seven or eight people so I did not feel like I was herded around like I have seen in some tour groups in Italy.

Sant' Appiano Winery Chianti, ItalyThis first stop winery was in a very small village called Sant' Appiano, and in fact the winery is about the only thing that is in this village, aside from a few homes. Aptly named, the winery is called Sant' Appiano.

The winery is operated by a family and I had the pleasure of learning about wine production by the two young owners who are brother and sister. After spending quite a bit of time in the wine cellar learning about the strict criteria that must be met to produce these Classico Chianti wines, I was ready to sample some wine.  My group was treated to a beautiful table set to taste three different wines, and of course there was food to go with the wine.prosciutto and bread to go with the wine, Chianti, Italy

There was an opportunity to purchase wine and olive oil as well, because wherever there are grape vineyards, there are olive groves as well, as the soil is the same for both.  I made a purchase and had several bottles of wine and olive oil shipped home, but if you wanted to carry a few bottles with you, the price was very reasonable. This winery is small enough that they do not export their products out of Italy, so it was very special being able to taste a wine that I knew I could not get in the United States.

The next stop was at a larger winery but still family operated, and this was in the town of Castellina, known as Castellina in Chianti. It seems a little redundant, but that is what the Italians call this town.Wines of Casamonti Winery, Chianti, Italy

This winery is called Casamonti and the owner came outside to greet us. Set high on a hilltop, the views are amazing and not only do they produce Classico Chianti wine here but they also raise pigs and make their own prosciutto as well as several other food items. After a thorough tour and again the education related to the strict guidelines prescribed by the wine consortium, I was amazed to learn that only six people work here and do everything.

Diner at Casamonti Winery, Chianti, ItalyAgain my group got to sample three wines and also had almost a complete meal served in a beautiful room. I felt like some kind of VIP as the entire experience was so personalized. There was also the opportunity to purchase wine here and there was no pressure, so unlike some types of tours commonly experienced in the U.S.

At both places I could sense how very proud the owners were of their winemaking business, and they talked with great pride about how hard they work to conform to all standards. This was a great way to spend a day in Tuscany, and a nice change pace from visiting museums and walking around cobble-stoned streets.

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

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5 Things To See And Do While Visiting The Chianti Wine Region

Tuscany is one of the most amazing regions in the world. Artistic, political and religious revolutions have transformed the area many times throughout the centuries, leaving it an ever-changing hub of culture.

To people living outside the Italian paradise, Tuscany is best known for its outstanding wine country.

Here are 5 things to see and do while visiting the Chianti Wine Region:

Wine Tasting Italy

1) Go wine tasting.

A trip to wine country that didn’t involve wine tasting would be like traveling to the moon without actually walking on it. The Chianti wine country lies in the heart of Tuscany, touching the provinces of Grosseto, Siena, Arezzo, Firenze, Prato, Pistoia and Pisa.

You can taste amazing wine in any of the provinces.

Palio di Siena, Siena Italy Photo by icedsoul photography

2) Witness the Palio di Siena.

Italians love racing. In Siena, the greatest race is the Palio. Ten riders race their horses bareback around the historic Piazza del Campo in the name of honor and rivalry. The 3-lap race, which usually lasts no more than two minutes, is held twice a year and is attended by spectators from around the world.

Races take place on July 2nd and August 16th.

People Watching, Piazza Grande, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

3) People watch in the Piazza Grande.

The city of Arezzo dates back to the rule of the Roman Empire. The Piazza Grande, the city’s medieval square, embraces travelers from around the world as they make their way through the heart of Tuscany.

700 years ago bishops paced the red brick pavement in search of answers from above. Today, you can stroll through the square and observe the friendly locals and eager tourists.

Learn to Cook, Italy

4) Learn to cook.

You’ve never had Italian food unless you’ve been to Italy. In Tuscany, cooking is more like an art form than a nutritional practice.

Learn to cook condiments, appetizers, pastas and desserts in one of the region’s many cooking schools.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

5) Visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Few architectural blunders are as visited as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It took over 170 years to construct the 183 ft tall, 14,500 metric ton bell tower.

Located about an hour from Florence, the Tower of Pisa is open to tourists who want to help hold it up using a little trick photography.

Tuscany is the birthplace of the Renaissance. It’s known for its buildings, food, wine and art. When you visit, make it memorable for your own reasons.



Spending a Day in Greve in Chianti, Italy

Guest Post By: Karen Mills 

Main plaza, Greve, Chianti, ItalyYesterday I visited the Chianti area.  Chianti is a region in Italy that spans from just below Florence to North of Sienna.  The Chianti Mountains border the area on the west and on the west, the valleys of two rivers, the Pesa and the Elsa.  Many people think that Chianti is an actual town, but it is a region with several towns within it.  Chianti is famous worldwide for the wines that it produces.

It is believed that the Etruscans were the first to cultivate grapevines.  This area between Florence and Siena was the location of many disputes and was under lengthy Roman rule.   Finally, in the mid-1500’s the eight municipalities of Chianti signed the Pact of Pontignano, which defined rules for protecting and promoting their shared identity.  In 1932, the boundaries of Chianti were defined and the production one of Chianti Classico was granted a certificate of primogeniture.  This means that it was the “first” or the “original”.   For wine to contain the designation of Chianti, it must be produced with at least 80% sangiovese grapes.

Bell Tower in Greve, ItalyThe most famous route for touring this area is I222, if you are driving, but I took the Sita bus.   Today, my destination was Greve in Chianti, a small village in the heart of the region.  The route is very scenic with small picturesque villages and vineyards of grapes and olive orchards along the way.  The winding narrow roads going through the hillsides made me glad that I wasn’t driving!  It took about an hour to get out of the Sita Bus station and into the Piazza Trento.  The bus ride cost 3,30 euro for one way, and the buses leave every 30 minutes.  The Sita Station is located on the south side of Santa Maria Novella, and you can buy tickets there and obtain information about the routes and schedules.  The area is very spread out and although many wineries do tours and tastings, they are not really set up for commercial business.  For most of them, it is important to make a reservation before dropping in.  There are many organized tours out of Florence which will allow you to visit one or two of the wineries for tours and tastings.  I have been on one of these before, but found it expensive and disappointing. So, I decided to tackle Chianti town by town on my own.

La Cantine di Greve in Chianti, ItalyWhen I arrived at the stop of Piazza Trento, in the center of Greve in Chianti, I took a right and continued along the main road there and came to the Wine Museum.  I didn’t go into the museum, but did get information on the main piazza, church and a large cantina for wine tasting!

The main piazza is Piazza Matteotti.  There are shops for purchasing picnic items and souvenirs and several restaurants.  The main church in the village is located at one end, and there is a large statue of Giovanni di Verrazano, an explorer of North America whose ancestral home is in Greve.

Wine for the Tasting, La Cantine di Greve in Chianti, ItalyThe highlight of the day was Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti.  This very large enoteca below surface near the Wine Museum has over 150 wines for tasting.  You buy cards for 10, 15 or 20 euro for the tasting.  There are stations where you insert the card and select the wine you want to taste.  The tasting is automatically dispensed and your card debited for the cost of the taste.  The tastings range from .60 to 5 euro depending on the cost of the bottle of wine.  Of course you can buy all of these wines here, and they do ship!  Other wine accessories and souvenirs are also available.  There is a free tasting of olive oils with the purchase of a card.  I loved the olive oil with tartufo and the peperoncini!  There are also samples of cheese and salamis available for purchase.  The cantina is opened for 10 until 7 daily.  I highly recommend a visit!

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Karen Mills is an American woman who made the decision to leave her corporate life behind to live “la dolce vita” in Florence, Italy, Read more about her experiences at An American In Italy or contact her at

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