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Chianti, or “Chiantishire” as foreigners love to call it, is the most fascinating area of the Tuscany Region, widely loved by international travelers and holidaymakers.
Its borders are not clearly defined but in general the area is comprised between Florence and Siena, expanding north toward Arezzo, Empoli and Montepulciano.
The ancient Chianti region, first an Etruscan colony, and Roman then, became a continuous battlefield from the Middle ages to the Renaissance for the fights between Florence and Siena who wanted to take control over these lands: castles and fortresses that lie on top of the many hills overlooking the countryside bear testimony to this glorious and tormented past. Country homes and elegant villas were built throughout the years in order to satisfy a growing demand for country retreats. When medieval fights ended, some valleys were cleared and then cultivated: chestnut woods and oaks, as well as olive groves and vineyards then started to take over. Today all these cultivations still contribute to the rich flora of this land.
Nowadays the peasant culture and its fine cuisine represents the foundation of the local tradition: the red Chianti DOCG is here produced, exported and worldwide appreciated, and it is possible to savour the traditional dishes such as the ribollita, the panzanella and the chianina beef steak.
Mentioning one place to visit in Chianti, does not do justice to the hundreds of other places that worth a visit. However, highly recommended are: Panzano, charming hilltop town of the Chianti classic zone; Barberino Val d’ Elsa, enclosed in ancient walls and hedge; Castellina in Chianti, the touristic capital; Gaiole in Chianti, an hilltop hamlet surrounded by cypress trees; Brolio Castle, a neo-gothic style manoir close to Siena; Moteriggioni, an extraordinary town and fortress of the 13th century. From the hills of Siena, it is possible to see the towers of San Gimignano, the Manhattan of the Middle Ages now listed as UNESCO’s world heritage site.