Monday, August 13, 2012

Tuscany: Greve in Chianti

After a week in Lake Como, it was off to Tuscany for the second half of our trip. The hotel provided transport back to the Milan airport where we rented a car. Brian then drove us the 4 1/2 hours to our villa in Rignano, which is about 45 minutes from Florence (or Firenze as the Italians would say). It was a beautiful drive.

After a nice dinner at our villa and a not-so-great nights sleep (the aircon in our bedroom wasn't working properly) we headed out for the day to Greve in Chianti. Greve is this idyllic little town about 30 minutes south of Florence in the middle of the Chianti Classico wine region. It was recommended to us by a wine merchant we met here in Abu Dhabi who had visited recently and raved about the town and a wine shop that allows you to taste over 100 different wines. We went in search of that wine shop, but found a lot more in the town.

It was market day so there was a big flea market set up in the town square selling all kinds of stuff - clothes, gadgets, table linens, handbags ... This cute little place is a permanent shop along the perimeter of the square selling baskets.

Chianti Classico is a wine made with grapes only from this region. You know it is an authentic Chianti Classico if there is a black rooster on a pink label around the neck of the bottle. As a result, black roosters are found all over the region.

This is a tiny little roundabout as you come into Greve. The Italians also like to dress up their roundabouts with art!

The entry to the wine shop. And there were over 100 wines to try (don't worry, we didn't even come close to that many). You buy a card at the register, then put the card in the wine dispenser of your choice, choose the wine you want to sample and you get a small taste, the price of which is deducted from your card.

They provide a book with all the wine regions they have available. Here, Brian is diligently studying to determine what we'll taste next. We had a good time and came to the realization that none of us really like Chianti much!
Since the Italians, like most Europeans, eat late, we had some time to 'kill' before our dinner reservations. We decided to explore the surrounding countryside and visit a winery or two.

We stopped at the Villa Casalosta and tasted some wines - even bought a couple. We were welcomed by the winemaker's wife and got to hear the history of the vineyard and the stories behind the names of their wines.

When we arrived back in town, we found the square now filled with tiny cars. Not sure if they do this every Saturday or if it was some special occasion. They hung around the square for a while and then all went zooming off together.

Our last stop before dinner was to one of the butcher shops in town. This is the outside and a replica of the wild boar that is very common in this area.

The inside of the shop was amazing - I've never seen so much pork in my life! Hanging everywhere and every kind of cut you can imagine. They also  sold cheese and had a little cheese cave in the back of the store. Quite an experience.

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