After Cinque Terre, we next travelled to Tuscany and made our base in the Chianti region, famed for its beautiful undulating hill-scape and of course, its wine.
Agriturismos are working farms and/or vineyards with lodging options. They are dime in a dozen in the Chianti region, and often cheaper than a hotel, though a car is a necessity when staying in one of these locales somewhat off-the-beaten-path. We stayed 3 nights at Villa Buonasera and only have good things to say about the kind and responsive proprietors, our neat studio with full kitchen facilities, a welcome bottle of house rosé, and the glorious countryside view.
Of the many little towns and villages that make up the Chianti region, Greve-in-Chianti is considered one of the largest and most well developed for tourism. It’s a well-touristed town, but the pace of life remains pleasantly slow. Since our agriturismo was located only 8 kilometres away, we took the opportunity to spend a morning at Greve.
A Saturday morning routine could be something like this: A stroll through the weekly open-air market for fresh fruits and vegetables,
followed by a trip to Antica Macelleria Falorni, a famous old butchery dab-smack in Greve’s town square for aged hams, pistachio flecked salami and ripe cheeses, perfect for a light Saturday lunch.
Another worthy stop in Greve-in-Chianti is the enoteca la Cantine, owned by the Falorni family. One can sample about 100 bottles of wine preserved by enomatic machines (invented by one in the Falorni family), not just Chianti but other Tuscan varietals like Brunellos and Montepulcianos as well as wines from other regions.
We ventured outside Greve-in-Chianti for dinners. At Casa al Chianti in the sleepy town of Dudda, 8 very windy kilometres away, we entrusted our appetites into the able hands of Francesca, the amiable lady who runs the restaurant-inn.
The food was simple and hearty. Though we had no love for the dry, tasteless, salt-free Tuscan bread, we liked it well enough as crispy breadcrumbs tossed into a piquant tomato and anchovy spaghetti sauce.
P was hankering for pork which Francesca doled out in the form of an off-the-menu grilled chop, bursting with juices and paired with yummy garlic spinach.
A dessert of tiramisu semi-freddo was equally rustic in appearances but packed with rich cream, strong coffee and soft cake. An honest meal at down-to-earth prices with possibly the best secondi we had in Tuscany.
Another address we liked was La Castellana in the tiny hamlet of Montefioralle. The restaurant was as charming as Montefioralle itself, small and warm, quaintly decorated with antiques and flowers.
We had our fill of yummy pastas, P’s tortellini draped in an unusual but delicious sauce that combined the citrus tang of lemon, the toasted flavors of walnuts and the funky sharpness of gorgonzola.
The mushroom and truffle tortellini was no snooze either. Even though the shavings were only of the less expensive summer truffles, the sauce and pasta remained thickly suffused in the heady scent of fungi.
Game is commonly found on Tuscan menus, so we also tried another pasta with tomato sauce, olives and pheasant. The wild boar cacciatore was also very enjoyable, tender like veal.
Villa Buonasera: Via Cintoia Alta, 32 – Loc. La Panca – 50027 Greve in Chianti Florence
Antic Macelleria Falorni: Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, 71, Greve in Chianti Florence
La Cantine di Greve-in-Chianti: Galleria Delle Cantine, 2, 50022 Greve in Chianti Florence
Casa al Chianti: Località Dudda, 12, 50022 Greve in Chianti Florence
La Castellana: Via Montefioralle Centro, 1 50022 Greve in Chianti Florence