Many visitors to this region of Italy are interested in only one kind of art: the art of winemaking. Or, more accurately in the tourist’s case, their interest in wine tasting. But whether for art or hedonism, the wineries around Tuscany are the place to enjoy both.
Chianti may bring to mind cheap table wines. But rest assured the vintages produced in this area forty minutes from Florence are anything but a cheap, vulgar red. Close to Siena, there are dozens of wineries here with offerings that will suit the most discriminating palettes.
On these hilltops are growing some of the finest grapes anywhere in Italy. They are then turned into some equally fine wines. Rocca Delle Macie near Castellina or San Felice near Siena even offers accommodations in the local villas.
Several of the wineries are sited near medieval castles, lending the whole trip an authentically historical air. One outstanding example is the Castello di Uzzano renowned for its Chianti Classico. The castle is nearby a residential villa so visitors can taste wonderful wine and enjoy superb sights.
Montalcino is also no slouch in the winemaking department. Tours of the Castello Banfi estate will persuade even the most finicky of wine drinkers of that. Over 7,100 acres provide this winery with ample stock from which to produce outstanding wines. Unlike many of its neighbors, the winery is only 25 years old, so it sports state-of-the-art equipment. But the 11th-century castle has been amazing visitors for centuries.
San Gimignano may be best known for its medieval towers. But, this small town is also famed for its white wines. Il Grande Prato can persuade any connoisseur that the renown is well deserved. Wines are served to visitors who can watch sheep graze while they enjoy a light snack and sip their favorite vintage.
Set among the hills that provide a view of the towers, the villa occupies three acres. It offers seven guest rooms, but one can stay for just an hour and try some wine. Just an hour? Hah! Let’s see any wine lover do that.
Site of one of Italy’s most beautiful Gothic cathedrals, Siena also offers some outstanding wine tasting opportunities. Among the rolling hills outside the town are nestled many superb wineries. The Villa Dievole is only one example. Only 45 minutes from Florence and half an hour from Chianti, there are over 800 acres here.
Visitors can obtain accommodations with a large room bedroom and bathroom, along with a fully functional kitchen. That sort of home away from home is rare among travels to foreign lands. But it doesn’t begin to compare to the outstanding breakfast served. Then it’s off to tour the vineyards and, about lunchtime, sample some wines.
It’s possible to tour much of Tuscany on a bicycle. But many will want to rent a car and take in several of the stellar villas and wineries that offer some of the best wines in the world.