Private Montalcino & Brunello Wine Tour

Siena- Landscape
Montalcino - tettiBrunello Montalcino - BottlesTuscany - landscapeMontalcino - ViewMontalcino - San Antimo - ViewMontalcino - viewMontalcino - panoramaBrunello di Montalcino - wineyardsSiena - Clay Hills

From: $84.26

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM

02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

Pick up at your Hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
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Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your full day excursion to the medieval town of Montalcino, travelling through the land that produces the fine Brunello wine.

You will be driven via Brunello Road, then through the dusty and narrow wandering roads that disappear from view amidst the meandering clay hills of Siena. Old farmhouses surrounded by ancient Cyprus trees stand as a testimonial to an agricultural past. Before arriving to Montalcino, you will make a brief stop to visit the Siena Clay Hills, a strange moon-like landscape that is the subject of many photos and artworks in Tuscany.

Continue to the Abbey of Sant’Antimo, an impressive monastery whose true origins are wrapped in mystery. Discover its fascinating architecture and religious treasures, and even assist with the Gregorian Melodies. Get back to your driver to finally reach Montalcino, a charming fortified hilltop town best known for its medieval architecture and production of the prestigious Brunello wine. This wine is a medium bodied dark red with a fruity aroma and dark, peppery notes. You will have the opportunity to visit one of Montalcino’s famous wineries where you will enjoy a wine tasting accompanied by local cheeses and cold cuts.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Visit of Abbey of St Antimo

– Visit of Montalcino

– Wine  Tasting and snack in a local wine estate

-Wine tasting of Brunello wine, Altero wine  and Madre wine

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Montalcino

– Val d’Orcia

– Abbey of St Antimo

– Visit of local Brunello vineyard and cellars

– Brunello wine tasting and other two local wines

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Private Montepulciano & Nobile Wine Tour

Montepulciano - piazza
Montepulciano - PiazzaMontepulciano - San Biagio  - from topMontepulciano - panoramaNobile MontepulcianoMontepulciano - Gattavecchi vineryMontepulciano - SquareVino Nobile - vignetoVino Nobile - vineyard

From: $84.26

 

TOUR DURATION

4 Hours

START TIME

09:00 AM & 02:00 PM

Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your driver will meet you at your hotel to take you on your full day excursion to the medieval town of Montepulciano.

Montepulciano, an ancient fortified town residing at the top of a large hill, is famous for both its beautiful architecture and its delicious wine. Its antique taverns and cafes are, to this day, meeting places for various artists from all over the world. Its atmosphere is steeped in a rich history and tradition while its churches and palaces protect a wealth of artworks from masters of ages past.

This charming town is also the home of the distinguished Vino Nobile, one of Italy’s most prized wines. It is a dark red wine with a fruity aroma, reminiscent of cherries and plums, and a medium body. Walking along the narrow streets or main roads of Montepulciano, you will quite likely be able to catch its delicate aroma wafting from a wine shop or restaurant.

After some time spent exploring the town, you will be able to experience the true character of the region through a tour of a local winery. This tour will end with a wine tasting at Cantine Gattavecchi, one of the oldest cellars of Montepulciano. During the tasting, you will be offered two local wines and will be also be served some local cheese and cold cuts.

Your driver will return you to your hotel at the end of the excursion.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Visit of Montepulciano

– Wine tasting and light lunch at Cantine Gattavecchi

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Tuscany countryside

– Montepulciano

– Visit of Cantine Gattavecchi

– Vine tasting of Nobile Wine

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No shorts, bare shoulders or miniskirts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Private Chianti Wine Tour from Florence

Tuscany - Chianti - panorama
Chianti - vignetiTuscany - Chianti - houseSiena - Chianti VinerySiena - Chianti vineraydsSiena - Chianti LandscapesSiena - Chianti - Wine Tasting  Capannelle

From: $89.87

tour duration

4 Hours

start time

09:30 AM & 02:00 PM
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

You will depart with your private driver for a full day excursion to the ancient and scenic Chianti wine region.

The Chianti Classico region is considered one of the oldest wine regions in the world, its oldest wines dating back to the 13th century. That said the Canaiolo grape used in Chianti wines is older than the Romans and was in fact referred to as the Etruscan Grape.

As you make your way through the lush countryside, you will be able to see many wonderful medieval castles that hark back to ages past, making it seem as though you are travelling back in time. You will arrive in the small village of Greve in Chianti. Visit of the historical city center. After the visit of Greve continue to a local wine estate where you will be taken on a tour of the vineyards the cellars and the elegant Italian garden of this beautiful corner of the Chianti.  At the end of this tour, you will have a wine tasting of 3 local wines, Olive oil and local cheese.

After the tasting, you will be returned to your accommodations in Florence.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Independent visit of Greve in Chianti

– Visit of local wine estate (Vineyards, Cellars and Gardens)

– Tasting of 3 local wines

– Tasting of Olive oil and local cheese

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Tuscany landscapes

– Chianti Hills

– Greve in Chianti

– Wine tasting

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodation

Duration:
4 hours

Return details:
Drop-off at your Accommodation

Castelli Romani food & wine Tour

Castel Gandolfo - flower
Castel Gandolfo - LakeCastel Gandolfo - PiazzaCastel Gandolfo - GuardsGrottaferrata - Abbazia San Nilo - ExteriorFrascati - viewFrascati - day viewMarino - Castelli RomaniLake AlbanoLake Albano  & Castelgandolfo

From: $155.03

 

TOUR DURATION

5 Hours

START TIME

10:00 Am

Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri, Sat

MEETING POINT

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Your driver will pick you up from your hotel in the morning and drive you toward the Castelli Romani for your full day tour. This excursion will take you through the lovely countryside surrounding Rome and to the fantastic residences of ages past.

 

The Castelli Romani (“Roman Castles”) is a group of communes in the province of Rome which include Frascati, Marino, Albano and Castel Gandolfo. These ancient hill towns of classical and medieval origin are celebrated for their lush green scenery, volcanic lakes, authentic cuisine, and local white wines. The area was initially frequented by wealthy Roman families who built magnificent palaces to enjoy the fresher climate during the summer. During the medieval period, powerful noble families took over the towns and began constructing more beautiful residences. Then, during the 16th and 17th centuries, aristocratic Romans renovated the palaces or built their own luxurious ones. At that time, popes were also erecting their own villas; in fact, Castel Gandolfo became the property of the Holy See and became a summer residence for the various popes.

 

Your full day tour will include independent visits of Frascati, a culturally and gastronomically rich city; the Abbey of San Nilo, built in the 9th century in Grottaferrata; the San Barnaba Church, built in the 17th century; and the famous wine fountain in Marino. You will also visit the Church of San Tommaso, on Caelian Hill, and Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence still used today. You will have some free time to stop for lunch and a wine tasting in Castel Gandolfo. You will be returned to your hotel in Rome at the end of the tour.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver coordinator

– Visit of Grottaferrata

– Visit of Castel Gandolfo

– Wine tasting and Lunch in Castel Gandolfo

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Frascati

– Grottaferrata

– Abbey of San Nilo

– Castel Gandolfo

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

– The dress code for men and women is strictly enforced in Churches. No bare shoulders, miniskirts or shorts.

Departure point:

Pick-up at your accommodations

Duration:

5 hours

Return details:

Drop-off at your accommodation

Private Verona & Valpolicella Tour

Verona - Juliets Balcony - detail
Verona - Juliets Balcony - detailVerona - Piazza Dante - detailVerona - St Anastasia - interiorVerona - particularVerona - PanoramaVerona - arenaValpolicella - ViewAmarone Wine - BottleAmarone - Vineyard

From: $140.43

tour duration

8 Hours

start time

09:00 AM

Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat

meeting point

Venice Piazzale Roma, more details at booking

Tour
Itinerary
Tour
Inclusions
Tour
Information

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Meet your driver to begin your private, full day excursion to Verona and the Valpolicella wine region.

Upon your arrival in Verona, you will go on a fascinating two hour walking tour, starting with the Romans conquering Verona and ending with its contemporary history. You will see the different ages of the city through all the various monuments scattered around its historical center. If you are a romantic, then Juliet’s house will probably be the highlight of this tour.

You will have some free time to grab lunch while in Verona. Afterwards, meet with your driver in the afternoon to continue your excursion. You will be driven through the nearby hills to explore the delightful countryside of the Valpolicella wine region. On the way you will visit a historical winery where you will be able to taste a few of the local wines, including the famous Amarone. The Amarone is a strong, full-bodied wine with a slightly bittersweet taste and sweet aroma.

You will be returned to Piazzale Roma in Venice at the end of your excursion.

TOUR INCLUSIONS

– Round trip transportation with private car

– Expert English speaking driver and guide

– Independent visit of Verona

– Valpolicella Drive

– Visit of vine estate in Valpolicella (Vineyards & cellars)

– Wine tasting of 3 local wines (Soave, Ripasso and Amarone)

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS

– Veneto Landscapes

– Verona

– Arena

– Juliet House

– Valpolicella

– Amarone Wine

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
– Confirmation will be received at time of booking

– Voucher and detailed operator information, including local emergency numbers will be received three weeks before the date of your tour.

– Adult pricing applies to all travelers.

Departure point:

Piazzale Roma, Venice. More details at booking.

Duration:
8 hours

Return details:
Piazzale Roma, Venice.

Veneto Hill Towns

Marostica - Night View
Marostica - ViewMarostica - PiazzaMarostica - FestivalAsolo - viewBassano del Grappa - BridgeBassano del Grappa - View

The Villa Barbaro, also known as Villa di Maser, is located on the foot of the Asolo Hills about 50 km from Venice. The villa was designed by the great Italian architect Andrea Palladio in 1560. Although its model is close to resurgent Roman villas like Villa Giulia or Villa d'Este in Tivoli, Palladio managed to combine the elegance of a summer villa with the practicality of a farm, seamlessly connecting the service area to the main building with large arcades. The artist Paolo Veronese decorated the interior with many influential frescoes while Alessandro Vittoria contributed stunning stucco decorations and several sculptures. The villa was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Today, it is at the center of an agricultural holding known mainly for the production of wine named after the villa.

Things to see

The Barbaro family ordered the construction of this villa in the mid-1500s. Over the years, the villa passed on to the Trevisan family and later to the Basadonna family from whom Lodovico Manin, the last Doge of Venice, came from. The villa fell into disrepair during the early 19th century but was eventually bought and renovated by wealthy industrialist Sante Giacomelli. During the First World War, the villa was occupied by Italian forces who used it as headquarters and outpost. In 1934, the villa was purchased by Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata who continued to restore it; his descendants still live there today.

Andrea Palladio also built the Tempietto Barbaro, a small church that served both the villa and the nearby village of Maser. It is a compact domed structure with a temple front reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, two small bell towers prefacing the dome. It is likely that the church faced a small plaza which has long since been paved over.

Another particular feature of the Villa Barbaro is the Nymphaeum located behind it. These large monuments are typical of Roman gardens and were originally dedicated to the local water nymphs. The one at Villa Barbaro is decorated with several statues and frames a spring water fishpond.


Villa Emo    

Designed and built in the mid 16th century by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, Villa Emo is one of Palladio’s best works and a countryside jewel. In fact, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, along with Villa Barbaro, another of Palladio’s edifices.

Located in the lush Veneto region of Italy, some 40 km from Venice, Villa Emo is a simple yet elegant union of summer palace and working farm. Devoid of embellishments on the outside, conversely the interior is richly decorated with frescoes by the late Renaissance artist Giovanni Battista Zelotti. These frescoes celebrate mythological scenes as well as agricultural life, noble virtues, family and fertility.

Bassano del Grappa

Bassano del Grappa - View
Bassano del Grappa - BridgeBassano del Grapppa - Piazza RepubblicaBassano del Grappa - Panorama

Bassano del Grappa is a modest town in the Veneto region, located north of Venice and built between the foothills of the Venetian Prealps and the bank of the Brenta River. The 16th century painter Jacopo Bassano lived, worked and died in this town, even adopting its name as his own. Bassano del Grappa is also famous for the invention of the Grappa, a strong, pomace-derived spirit traditionally enjoyed after dinner as a digestif.

Bassano was founded as an agricultural estate in the 2nd century BC by a Roman called Bassianus, who then gave his name to the city. Over the centuries it flourished thanks to trade and its industry of wool, silk and metals. Its history remains relatively quiet up until the French Revolutionary Wars, when the town because the site of the Battle of Bassano in 1796. Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have remained in Bassano del Grappa for many months.

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Again, Bassano became the site of more, violent battles during World War I; many soldiers lost their lives on the nearby Mount Grappa. Originally called Bassano Veneto, the town changed its name in 1928 to Bassano del Grappa in honor of the dead soldiers. Interestingly, several American authors spent time in Bassano during the war, including Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway. The latter settled in the town for a time and wrote his novel “A Farewell to Arms” based on his experiences.

Bassano offers several lovely sights and historical attractions, such as the Duomo Santa Maria in Colle, a cathedral built in the early 2nd century and later renovated in a more Baroque style. It is the oldest cathedral in the town and boasts a collection of works by Leandro da Bassano, Ottavio Marinali and other artists. The Church of St. Francis, built in the 13th century in the Romanesque-Gothic style, rises above Piazza Garibaldi. Within are 14th and 15th century frescoes, including “The Crucifixion” by Guariento di Arpo. Nearby is the civic museum which hosts a collection of archeological artifacts as well as various works of art by Jacopo Bassano, Antonio Canova, Gian Lorenzo Bernini and Albrecht Dürer.

Finally, there is the Ponte Vecchio or Ponte degli Alpini, a covered wooden bridge that spans the Brenta River. It was designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569 to replace a pre-existing medieval bridge. The bridge was destroyed many times, the last time occurring during World War II.

Marostica

Marostica - Piazza Castello - view
Marostica - view from the topMarostica - Night ViewMarostica - PiazzaMarostica - detailMarostica - ViewMarostica - Festival

Marostica, also known as the “City of Chess”, is a small town in the Veneto region, located north-west of Venice. It is best known for its medieval-themed living chess festival and cherry festival.

Two castles, Castello Superiore and Castello Inferiore, guard the town and surrounding area. These castles, referred together as “Castello di Marostica”, were built in the early 14th century although the construction of the wall that connects them did not begin until later that century.

Castello Superiore, a large square building with four small corner towers and one large central one, stands on the hill above the town. Castello Inferiore, on the other hand, is a smaller square structure that guards the city’s walled gates. Directly in front of Castello Inferiore is the Piazza degli Scacchi (Chess Square), a square plaza built after World War II and tiled to look like a giant chessboard.

Things to see

Every evenly numbered year, Marostica holds a particular event where a huge chess game is played out with living pieces, including real knights on horseback. This tradition stems from a play written by Mario Mirko Vucetich in the early 20th century about an event that supposedly occurred in 1454, wherein two noblemen fell in love the daughter of a local Lord and came to quarrel. The two wished to duel, as was the custom, but the Lord forbade it, decreeing instead that they play a chess game where the winner would earn his daughter’s hand in marriage. This game was organized in the plaza, where supporters from each nobleman’s family served as the chess pieces. Although the story is fictional, Marostica reenacts the chess battle in its chequered square every September falling on an even numbered year.

Between May and June Marostica hosts the Cherry Festival, which dates back to 1933 and where the local harvest of cherries is celebrated with tastings, competitions and other events.

Asolo

Asolo - view

Also known as “The City of a Hundred Horizons”, Asolo is a small town located in the Veneto region. It is considered one of the nicest cities in Italy thanks to its culture, architecture and of course, fine cuisine. Surrounded by a rampart, Asolo is built around a hill with the fortress La Rocca erected on top, overlooking the whole town. Old houses and narrow medieval streets with arches are the main components of the city.

Thanks to the Alps, Asolo enjoys a mild climate, best enjoyed with a walk through its historical streets, passing under arches, or by visiting one of its many gardens and villas. This small city has always attracted artists, poets, writers and singers, inspired by its charm. For instance the author Pietro Bembo wrote “Gli Asolani”, which makes a few references to Asolo, while the poet Robert Browning bought Villa Cipriani in 1889 and briefly lived in Asolo until his passing.

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Visitors can explore the medieval fortress on top of the hill and continue their visit to the Civic Museum. Another interesting place to explore is the Castle of Queen Caterina Cornaro (the queen of Cyprus between 1474 and 1489). She stayed in this castle with her court during the 15th century and it later became her official residence. As the years passed, the castle of Queen Caterina Cornaro became the symbol of the Asolan countryside. Three of its four towers still stand today.

Finally, a visit in Asolo is not complete without stopping in one of its restaurant to enjoy a delicious Italian meal accompanied by tasty wines from the area such as the Asolo Prosecco Superiore, a dry yet sparkling white wine.

Amarone Wine

Valpolicella - Vigneto
Amarone Wine - BottleAmarone - VineyardAmarone - Vigneto

The Amarone della Valpolicella wine is produced in the north-eastern part of Italy in the Veneto region, in the Valpolicella area. The Amarone Classico della Valpolicella is probably one of the best wine of the area. The wine making process of the Amarone wine is an ancestral and very particular process.

The best grapes are collected manually at the beginning of fall. Grapes are then dried with air in a warehouse in order to increase their concentration in sugar and their famous taste. After, the wine is put in oak barrels for a time that can reach until 36 months. This wine has a higher percentage of alcohol (15-17%) compared to the other Valpolicella wines.

Amarone Information

After a year spent in a barrel, the wine is put into a bottle before being sold. The Amarone Della Valpolicella. The Amarone is garnet-colored and often left for two years before being sold. Several producers keep it for 5 years before they sell it. The Amarone wine can easily be kept for 10 years. Some of the Amarone can even age until 20 years.

The Amarone wine is a new wine, it appeared in 1960, the label indicated Recioto della Valpolicella and blow “Amarone”. In 1968 the Amarone wine was included in the Italian DOC (Denominazion di Origine Controllata) with the following subtitle: Classico Superiore. The Amarone della Valpolicella became a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest level of Italian wine appellation only in 2010.

The Amarone della Valpolicella can be served with cold cuts, game bird, meats, cheeses such as Parmigiano and desserts.

Valpolicella

Valpolicella - View
San Giorgio di ValpolicellaNobile MontepulcianoAmarone Wine - BottleAmarone - VineyardValpolicella - Vigneto

The Valpolicella wine region is located just to the north of Verona in the north-eastern part of Italy, a province known as Veneto. This region is composed of several valleys covered with vineyards, small villages with nice Romanesque churches, and typical historical villas. The Valpolicella wine region is one of the biggest wine-producing regions in Italy, the other two main regions being Piemonte and Chianti. The meaning of Valpolicella is “valley of numerous cellars”; the name is ancient but there are still many vineyards and cellars producing good wine here today.

Things to see

The Valpolicella wines are made from three different grape varieties: the Corvina, the Rondinella and the Molinara. Meanwhile, wine productions are classified into four different categories. First is the Valpolicella Classico, which is the major wine produced in the area and is often defined as having a light body with light cherry flavor and touch of earth. The Valpolicella Superiore is considered a simple daily red; it is created by aging the grapes for at least a year and is a little bit darker than the Valpolicella Classico. Moreover it has 12% alcohol instead of the traditional 11% of the Valpolicella Classico. After that is the Valpolicella Amarone, an ancient and strong, bitter wine. Historically, the Amarone was not usually deliberately made but rather was the result of batches of sweet wine (meant to become Recioto) being unintentionally allowed to ferment dry. Finally, there is the Valpolicella Superior Ripasso. This wine has the same production process as the Amarone wine however once it is fermented, some Amarone grape peels are added to the wine a few days before being filtered. This wine is a little bit less expensive than the Amarone wine but no less delicious.

The Recioto della Valpolicella is not part of the four categories as this wine is a little bit different from the others. The process of fermentation is stopped when the alcohol percentage reaches 13 to 14 so that the wine keeps a little bit of its natural sweetness. This velvety red wine is particular since, unlike other sweet red wines, it has to be sipped cool.

Montalcino

Montalcino - tetti
Siena- LandscapeMontalcino - viewMontalcino - panoramaMontalcino - ViewBrunello Montalcino - BottlesMontalcino - San Antimo - View

Not far from Siena is another, smaller medieval hilltop town by the name of Montalcino, famous above all for its production of Brunello wine.

Like most of the towns in the area, Montalcino was originally an Etruscan settlement that remained relatively small until a sudden population growth in the 10th century. In the middle ages, Montalcino gained some importance due to its location on Via Frencigena, an ancient and important Roman road, as well as its production of quality leather goods. The 14th to 16th centuries were tumultuous, with the town getting caught between the warring Florence and Siena, as well as the various battles between the local noble families. Montalcino was eventually conquered by the Florentine Republic in the mid 16th century and remained under their control until the unification of Italy. Today, Montalcino is very well known for its production of Brunello wine, made from the Sangiovese Grosso grapes that are cultivated in the area surrounding the town.

Things to see

Aside from its delicious wine, Montalcino also offers some fascinating sights such as the medieval Fortress that dominates the highest point in town and offers a stunning panorama from its towers. There is also the Church of Sant’Agostino, an imposing Gothic style religious structure from the 13th century, and whose beautiful cloisters were later added in the 15th century. Finally, a little outside of the town is large and mysterious Abbey of Sant’Antimo, whose true origins are still obscure today.
Brunello wine

Made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape, these red wines are among the most complex and rich expressions of Sangiovese. The soils in these hillside vineyards yield robust, voluptuous wines with great depth and aging potential. Notes of leather, earth, plums, and spices are typical. Brunello is the most tannic and the most potentially age-worthy expression of Sangiovese. Rosso di Montalcino, however, is a much more approachable red. Rosso is what Italians drink while they wait for their Brunello to mature.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano - Piazza
Montepulciano - San Biagio  - from topMontepulciano - panoramaMontepulciano - SquareNobile MontepulcianoVino Nobile - vignetoVino Nobile - vineyard

Situated just southeast of Siena is a small medieval hill town by the name of Montepulciano, famous for its food and wine. Particularly, the town produces Vino Nobile, “noble wine”, which is a delicious red wine renowned the world over.

Originally an Etruscan settlement, it eventually became a small Roman town that served as a garrison for road patrols. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, Montepulciano was ruled by the Lombards, who turned the town into a religious center. The town’s medieval period is marked by constant warring between the surrounding Republics and the local noble families. Montepulciano eventually flourished in the 15th and 16th centuries, with famous local architects such as Giacomo Barozzi and Baldassarre Peruzzi building palaces and other important structures, bringing great beauty to the town. Some of the main sights now are the Palazzo Comunale, the town hall designed in the same style as Florence’s, Palazzo Tarugi, and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, also called the Duomo of Montepulciano.

Things to see

Today, Montepulciano is an important agricultural centre, focusing especially on the cultivation of Montepulciano grapes for the various wine productions in the area, the most famous of which is the Vino Nobile.
Nobile wine

The Vino Nobile is a rich red wine produced around Montepulciano, in Tuscany. It is composed primarily from the San Giovese grape which is cultivated in the vineyards around the town, and is listed under the DOCG label of quality.

The Vino Nobile has a bright ruby red color and a rich texture. Refined aromas of cherry and plum follow through to a full-bodied palate, with soft, round tannins and a flavorful finish.

Chianti Wine Region

Tuscany - Chianti - panorama
Chianti - vignetiBotti Vino - TuscanySiena - Chianti VineryFlorence - Typical TagliataSiena - Chianti vineraydsSiena - Chianti LandscapesTuscany - Chianti - houseTuscany - Chianti - viewSiena - Chianti - Wine Tasting  Capannelle

Chianti Classico refers to an area in the Chianti region renowned and protected for its wine production. Considered the oldest and most important area of Tuscany, the borders stretch between Florence and Siena (respectively north and south), and between Val d’Elsa and Val d’Arno (respectively west and east).

The region was established as far back as the 12th century, where vineyards were raised on the verdant hills and produced wine locally. Over the centuries, the area grew progressively more famous for its high quality wine production until Cosimo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, issued an edict in 1716 protecting the region as the only one allowed to officially create Chianti wine. Over the years, the Chianti Classico region expanded and today it covers a very large area that includes 14 municipalities.

Chianti Classico also refers to any of the seven wines produced in the region. These wines are marked as superior to the rest by the Black Rooster seal on their labels; this seal guarantees their quality and legitimacy, since wine fraud is a very real threat to the industry.

Things to see

Radda in Chianti

Located in the Chianti region is Radda, a beautiful medieval town resting on a hill top between the valleys of Arbia and Pesa. The area has been inhabited by the Etruscans as far back as 2000 BCE, and a document from the 2nd century confirms the existence of a settlement named Radda. In the subsequent centuries, the settlement grew into a village, leading to the birth of a feudal society and the construction of medieval fortifications, some of which can still be seen today. When Radda eventually fell into the hands of the Republic of Florence in the 13th century, the town became the capital of the Chianti League as well as the seat of the Florentine governor, who lived in the beautiful Palazzo del Podestà. The historical centre was badly damaged during World War II but it has since been renovated and restored. The nearby Church of San Niccolò, which was also damaged and restored, is an ancient Romanesque church first built in the 13th century, with various improvements and extensions occurring over the years and giving it its present appearance.

Close to the town square is a more recent and curious monument: the Ghiacciaia of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Built in the 19th century, this peculiar pyramid-shaped construction served as an ice box, preserving snow and turning it into ice.

Not far from this square is the Grand Duke’s Ice house, built at the end of the 19th century to preserve snow and turn it into ice. The Museum of Sacred Art of Chianti deserves a visit. Set in the Franciscan Convent of Santa Maria in Prato, it displays several works of art from the Chianti region, including a valuable polyptich by Neri di Bicci (1474) depicting the Virgin Mary with child and saints.

In the surroundings of Radda you’ll find many castles and parish churches, such as the medieval Castle of Volpaia and the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria in Prato with beautiful flowered capitals in the Romanesque style.

Today, Radda in Chianti and its surroundings are famous destinations for relaxing holidays in Tuscany. Several restaurants and wine shops in town offer excellent Tuscan dishes and the opportunity to taste the Chianti Classico DOC produced in the area. A quick stop at the tourism office within Radda will help you find the nearest winery open for tastings on the particular day you visit.
Gaiole in Chianti

The city of Gaiole in Chianti is another important city within the Chianti Classico region, located along the river Massellone and on the road connecting Chianti to Valdarno. Thanks to this position, Gaiole has always played an important role as market center for the castles and towns nearby.

I have to say that the main attractions in Gaiole in Chianti are the wineries in its surroundings. Since it was a marketplace, it never had the need for defensive walls such as those in Radda in Chianti. In fact, its center was destroyed and rebuilt many times, and few buildings have been preserved from the past.

Despite this relative “newness”, I still recommend a stop in Gaiole for a short walk before moving on to your next destination. In fact, the real attractions of Gaiole, beyond its Chianti Classico wine, are its surroundings which include beautiful castles and parish churches.

Among the most beautiful is the Parish Church of Spaltenna, displaying a valuable 15th century crucifix, the Castle of Vertine,a small medieval walled village, and the Abbey of Coltibuono, a former monastery now turned into a wine estate.

Another important castle in the area I highly recommend visiting is the Castello di Brolio. Founded by Longobards, it has been home to the noble Ricasoli family since the 12th century who has produced wine for centuries. Descendants of the family still live in the castle so while you can’t visit the castle, I recommend you visit the gardens from where you can admire the breathtaking view of Chianti with the city of Siena at the horizon