Subject: Re: A Day Out in Chianti: Need Help!
Hi Deb,

Here are some of my choices for a day out in Chianti:

The wine towns of Chianti (this is essential Tuscany) - Spend the day touring the little villages of Castellina in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Volpaia (hard to find on the map - just north of Radda) & Castello di Brolio. Drive the beautiful route S222 from just outside Florence south to the S429 which will take you to Radda. On route, if you are into sausages, stop in Greve and visit Falorni, for a most outstanding selection. If you are near Greve around lunch, go to Cantinetta di Rignana near Montefioralle which is another beautiful hilltop village to wander through. If you are closer to Castellina at lunch, stop at Antica Trattoria La Torre or Le Vigne in Radda. Any one of these would provide you with a meal to remember.

I suggest spending a day in Montalcino and Sant 'Antimo. Start off in Montalcino and have lunch at Poggio Antico, absolutely superb, and continue on to Sant 'Antimo to see this magnificent Abbey and hear the Gregorian Chants that are sung at 7:30, 9:00, 11:00, 12:45, 14:45, 18:30 & 20:00. This is Brunello di Montalcino country and there are many enotecas in Montalcino, most notably the Fortezza, where you will be able to taste this spectacular wine. To get to this area as well as Montepulciano below, I suggest you get on the A1 from Florence to the S146 cut off near Chiusi.

Another choice - a day in Montepulciano and lunch at La Grotta which is just down the hill in front of the magnificent church of San Biagio (you can walk, if you are somewhat fit). This is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano territory and this is the wine to have in this area. After lunch, drive to Pienza (about 20 minutes) and visit this delightful Renaissance town and sample Pecorino cheese at La Bottega del Cacio or La Bottega del Naturista). For outstanding views of the Crete Senesi, continue along route S146 west of Pienza to San Quirco d'Orcia. This barren surreal landscape is completely different from the Chianti hills and is worth seeing. Watch for clusters of cypress trees or solitary trees dotting these hilltops. I find this area to be visually spectacular.

Also in this area, near Asciano, is the Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Tuscany''s most visited Abbey. The frescoes are worth the detour - try and hook up with an English guide.

Of course, there is San Gimignano but it should only be visited in the late afternoon when all the tour buses have left. The views from the Rocca are breathtaking. You could start your day in Volterra, an interesting Etruscan town situated on a high plateau that is filled with wonderful alabaster craftsmen. Then onto San Gimignano and have dinner at Ristorante Dorando.

If you have not been there previously, a day in Siena and lunch at La Torre. This would be a perfect spot to spend most of the day and then into San Gimignano on your way back to Florence.

An alternative to Volterra in combination with San Gimignano would be Colle Val d'Elsa. Do not stop in the lower town - just head for the upper town - one of Italy's largest producers of fine glass & crystal. Also, you could stop in the walled village of Monteriggioni for just a brief tour of this interesting little town and have lunch or dinner at Ristorante Il Pozzo.

As mentioned recently on the Zine, a stop in the delightful elliptical village of Lucignano and have lunch at Da Toto. A visit to the Museo Communale to see the gold reliquary known as the Tree of Lucignano is a must. This could also be combined with Siena.

Now that I am pining to return to Tuscany, I leave you with this thought. How about a 1 night sleep over in Montefollonico allowing you to spend two days exploring this exciting region?

Have a great time. Let me know if you need any details of the restaurants, etc.

Felice Toronto, Ontario