Five Days in Tuscany: Day 4: Chianti
Another day, another enchanted morning at Villa Collina. This morning I drank my espresso sitting in front of the Il Campanile chapel as I watched the sun climb out of the valley below. Our day in Val d’Orcia was amazing, but tiring, so we decided to take it easy at Villa Collina before venturing out to Chianti. One of the difficulties of staying at such an incredible place is that you are constantly torn between the desire to stay and enjoy the villa and surroundings vs. exploring greater Tuscany. Today, we opted for a balance of both.
My peaceful morning was quickly interrupted by our kids running past me (no good morning Daddy) to ring the chapel bell. Ever since arriving at Villa Collina and being introduced to the task of ringing a bell by Leone, one of the caretakers of Il Campanile, our kids have been obsessed with ringing the bell. Luckily the bell needs significant weight to turn over, so it takes some real effort by our two daughters to make it actually ring.
After a leisurely morning, we packed up and were on our way to Radda in Chianti, 47km from Villa Collina or roughly an hour drive away. Radda in Chianti is a beautiful medieval town enclosed in large defensive walls. Located on a hill covered with woods and extensive vineyards, between the valleys of Arbia and Pesa, it has ancient origins and has been inhabited since the 9th century. The town maintains its medieval look characterized by narrow streets meeting in the main square where you’ll find the Church of San Niccolò, a church of Romanesque origins which displays a venerated wooden Crucifix from the 15th century.
Just outside the village, on the Vignale farm, are the headquarters of the Chianti Classico consortium (its symbol is the black-cockerel, the former emblem of the League of Chianti), and the Centro di Studi Chiantigiani (Centre for Chianti Studies), founded in 1984, with a small library and an archive devoted to the history of Chianti and its agriculture. The Montevertine farm, near the village, houses the small Museo del Chianti, with displays relating to the farming community.
Since we are in the heart of Chianti, we figured what better place to tour a winery and taste some Chianti Classico than right here. We drove about 10 minutes past Radda in Chianti, up though the beautiful hills of Chianti, and arrived at the estate of Castello d’Albola. Barbara, our Destination Concierge, had arranged for us to visit the winery and have a free private tour. Castello d’Albola is owned by the Zonin family, who have restored the entire medieval complex beautifully. This is an intimate and beautiful place to taste wines and take a tour.
The origins of Castello d’Albola can be traced back to the 12th century. The castle has belonged to some noble Tuscan families along the years: the Acciaioli, the Samminiati and the Pazzi, as well as the ﬁrst Counts of Ginori, all of which contributed to the development of Tuscan history.
According to wine experts, Castello d’Albola is in the ideal place to produce elegant wines, rather than strong ones. Castello d’Albola wines reﬂect the authenticity of its historical cellars, where one can ﬁnd ﬁne wines that have been aging for decades and still keep an unspoiled and almost surreal taste.
The Zonin family Villa pictured on the label on the bottles of wine.
Oak casks where the wine matures before being bottled.
I could have toured wineries all day, probably all week.
When we returned to Villa Collina from Chianti, Chef Giuseppe from Castello Banfi was beginning dinner preparations. This is yet another one of the great services that the staff at Inspriato are happy to arrange. Giuseppe prepared an appetizer, two-course meal, dessert and did all the clean-up, and my wife thought it was the best night of all, a true luxury. Giuseppe not only made us an amazing meal, but taught our son how to make gnocchi from scratch. With the exception of his newly acquired Italia hoodie, this was probably the highlight of the trip for our son.
After yet another amazing Tuscan sunset, relaxed and well fed, we crawled into our comfy beds for a peaceful nights rest.