The Chianti Region of Tuscany covers an area of around 300 sq. kilometres and lies between Siena and Florence. The scenery is wonderful and instantly recognisable from the many paintings and photographs that have been reproduced over the years of “Tuscany’s landscapes”. Softly rolling hillsides covered with rows of grape vines, stony meadows, olive groves and groups of cypress trees all make up the beauty that is Tuscany and the Chianti region in particular. Artists have long been drawn to this region as the light is really amazing, the views change from hour to hour. In summer the landscape seems to go on forever, but as the Autumn approaches and the mists descend over the hilltops, the light seems to filter the colours and objects as though seen through a smoky veil. The landscape also contains towns and villages, nestled among the hills, and there are villas and farmhouses with their lines of cypress trees. Dotted around the region are also castles, some in disrepair whilst others are still occupied by families whose ancestors have lived here for many centuries. All this beauty and then there are the wines.
A visit to the Chianti region is often coupled with a chance to sample the wine. The Chianti region produces superb wines, mainly made from the Sangiovese grape, although some producers prefer traditional blends with other local grapes. Chianti wine is, traditionally, a light wine with a full fruity flavour and berry aromas. The tradition of cultivating vines in Chianti goes back a long time in history, back to the Etruscans that inhabited the area before the Roman empire. The Chianti DOCG appellation is divided into seven subregions – Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rufina – of which Classico is the most famous. The flavour of the wine relies a lot on where the grapes are grown and differences in the soil affect the resulting wine. In the region there are many wineries and farms that offer wine tastings and other regional products.
Enotourism is highly evolved in Italy, and many producers offer other services as well. Of particular importance is the agriturismo system of providing accommodation for tourists at the estate, making it easy to explore the surrounding region.
The event of Cantine Aperte on the last Sunday of May is a good opportunity for anyone interested in Italian wine. This is the day many wine producers throughout Italy open their doors for a free tasting of their wines.
This is a region where “La Dolce Vita” springs to mind as you look around at the wonderful landscape of olive groves, rolling hillsides blanketed in grape vines, lazy sheep idylly lolling about and smell the fragrant herbs that feature in many of the regions fantastic dishes. Tuscan cuisine is simple and uses products dictated by the seasons
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