From Florence to Chianti
Florence, San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Chianti: the history of art and wine.
If you've already "done" Florence and visited every museum, gallery and church in the Tuscan capital, from the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with it's dome designed by Brunelleschi, to the art-packed Uffizi Gallery in Piazza della Signoria; it's time to head into the hills above the city and discover the treasures of Chianti!
Escape to the hills
On the outskirts of Florence, perched on the hills overlooking the city, the small town of 'Fiesole is famous for its Roman theater (which is still used to this very day!), the 11th century Badia and a whole string of magnificent villas.
Whilst in Fiesole, pop into the Bandini Museum to see the impressive collection of terracotta art by the Della Robbia brothers
At home with the Medici
The Villa of Poggio a Caiano is, arguably, the most beautiful of the Medici Villas. Commissioned by Lorenzo il Magnifico, the building was inaugurated in 1480.
The sumptuous rooms of the Medici's summer residence are adorned with masterpieces by artists such as Andrea del Sarto, Filippino Lippi, Pontormo and Alessandro Allori. The family chapel was designed by none other than the great Giorgio Vasari.
A few kilometers away lies the town of Vinci, an obligatory port of call for those wishing to pay homage to the undisputed genius of the Italian renaissance: Leonardo.
You can admire the instruments and machines invented by Leonardo Da Vinci, in the town's 13th century Castle
Travelling towards Tuscany's much loved Chianti region, we come to the old town of San Casciano Val di Pesa where to visit the Church of Santa Maria del Prato in which a crucifix by Simone Martini is conserved.
Rolling hills, lines of cypress trees, ancient farmsteads, and a patchwork of vineyards and olive groves characterize the countryside of the Val d'Elsa. This is where we find San Gimignano, the medieval town famous for its 72 towers, of which 14 remain intact.
Proceeding towards the coast we come to Volterra, a town founded by the Etruscans. The "balze" of Volterra, between the valleys of Elsa and Cecina, represent one of the largest alabaster deposits in Italy, and the semi-translucent stone has been quarried here for centuries.
To this very day, the alabaster is crafted and sold in the little workshops and boutiques which line the streets of the historic center of Volterra
Monteriggioni is situated in the heart of the Crete Senesi. A fortified outpost constructed to protect the ancient Via Cassia thoroughfare, Monteriggioni was mentioned by Dante in his Divine Comedy, in which he refers to the medieval stronghold as the "cerchia tonda".
Travelling along the Via Chiantigiana, visitors have the opportunity to explore any number of picturesque villages and hilltop towns all of which situated in the proximity of the ancient road. Castellina is one such town, after which comes Gaiole and nearby, the Badia di Coltibuono, where legend has it, the great wine producing tradition of the high Chianti was born.
Here, what was once an 11th century monastery, now houses one of the region's most famous wineries. Travelling further in to Tuscan wine-making territory and the land of the Gallo Nero, we come to Greve where, each September, an important wine show is held.
Hotels in the area
Radda In Chianti
From € 90,00
Montefiridolfi, San Casciano Val di Pesa
From € 140,00
Torrita di Siena
Barberino Val d'Elsa
Montecatini Val di Cecina
San Giovanni d'Asso
From € 230,00
Castellina in Chianti
Torrita di Siena
Bagno a Ripoli