Right in the heart of Tuscany, between Siena and Firenze, the Chianti area is one of the most evocative, romantic and popular places in Tuscany: all the year round, it’s always a great and pleasant experience to either drive or ride a motorcycle/bicycle up and down its winding roads and rolling hills. The landscape, dotted with hilltop hamlets, vineyards, castles, churches, estates, olive groves and wineries, is the main character in this enchanting and evocative story.
Beyond wonderful sights and picture-postcard views, Chianti means also a glass of its red wine and a snack to take a break and fully taste your on the road visit. Thus, here we are with some suggestions of ours for a great and authentic nosh in the Sienese area of Chianti. All the following places have been visited directly by us to have a merenda, the savoury Italian afternoon snack, but are also open at lunch and dinner time.
1) Radda in Chianti: “La Bottega di Giovannino”. Let’s start our tasty trip from the hilltop town named Radda in Chianti, that in the past was the capital of the Chianti League: the fortress that surrounds the historical centre testifies to these glorious old days. Right at the bottom of the main street is the wonderful “Giovannino”, a simple, friendly, lovely inn, a classic destination for us who often make a trip to Chianti during the weekend. We have been celebrating here birthdays, graduations or just moment together with friends for years: it’s the right place for good wines, excellent and fresh food snacks and family-like atmosphere.
2) Volpaia: “Bar Ucci”. Volpaia is a lovely fortified micro-hamlet near Radda, that definitely is worth a visit: first of all because it is enchanting, and secondly for Paola, the fantastic woman that runs the “Bar Ucci”, a bar/trattoria right on the square of the village. Eating at Barucci, either for a panino, a snack or a complete lunch or dinner, means fresh ingredients, delicious dishes, a relaxed atmosphere, a cosy room inside, a splendid terrace outside, and Paola’s warm welcome and care. Bruschette, salami, ham, pasta, ribollita, desserts – home made, naturally – all is simply delicious. you can’t really miss this place!
Volpaia, Bar Ucci
3) Il Ristoro a Lucarelli: on the road connecting Radda in Chianti to Panzano, right at the border between the provinces of Siena and Florence, is the bed-and-breakfast/bar/restaurant/grocery named “Ristoro a Lucarelli”. If you wish to taste a panino made with the authentic Tuscan bread in an atmosphere of the days gone by, this is definitely the place. The bar works also as small grocery store for the village (no shops or supermarkets here, locals meet at the bar, buy bread and other stuff, talk and play with children here, like it happened in most Tuscan villages when I was a child), and offers rooms for visitors. Nice!
Ristoro a Lucarelli
4) Vertine: “La Vineria”. Right at the entrance of the picturesque fortified hamlet of Vertine, in the hills surrounding Gaiole in Chianti, you find the “Vineria” (wine bar), a lovely location to taste bruschette, salami, ham and other Tuscan delicatessen. Open from Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter) till late October, it’s often very busy for its great position and the friendly atmosphere.
5) San Gusmè: “Sira e Remino”. On the hills around the town of Castelnuovo Berardenga, the lovely medieval hamlet of San Gusmè hosts of of the most renown places for a merenda, lunch and dinner in Chianti: Sira e Remino. The owner recently changed but the quality of food and wine remain the same! Also, the stunning view over Siena, the Sienese Crete, the Mount Amiata and the Val d’Orcia from the village is itself worth being there. Wine and delicious local dishes top a splendid corner of the marvellous Tuscany. Enjoy!
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