When we decided we were going to stay in Tuscany for a few days it was necessary to select a central place to stay.
What I researched first before selecting what would be a central location, was tours. I considered doing a cooking tour but these turned out to be quite expensive so we decided to look at other types of tours.
Bus tours went out of Florence so our initial intention was to stay there. We’d been there before and stayed at the Hotel Brunelleschi and loved it. It is perfectly situated in Florence, especially for discovering the city by foot.
Then I found an interesting tour company, Very Tuscany Tours, run by Sara and Andrea, two people who specialize in showing visitors the Tuscany area and I thought; what could be better than tour guides with local knowledge?
So began an exchange of emails, the upshot being that it would cost less if we stayed in Greve. On that basis, we booked two personalized tours so we could see notable landmarks, scenery, a number of wineries, and sample the real food of Italy.
The tours fulfilled our expectations, and then some.
But back to Greve in Chianti.
We booked an apartment at Antica Pastifico, an old converted pasta factory, a room in fact with a name. Ours was called ‘Iris’ located on the first floor of the yellow pasta factory.
It was the middle of June and summer so the days were very hot and the evenings were cool and one night it rained. It was beautiful to watch the raindrops on the terracotta tiles, and take in the aroma of the rain interacting with nature through open windows, and feel the gentle breeze in your face.
It was equally delightful in the morning, to look out over the garden and take in the early morning coolness and scent of the flowers whilst getting ready for the day.
There was a church, The Santa Croce church, at the top of the Piazza Matteotti which we could see from our apartment, and every morning at 8:00 am the bells would sound, making it a much more effective of being woken up than the usual conventional means. Sadly we never got to visit the church.
Where the apartments were situated it was a five minute walk to the shops and a particular coffee shop where we went every morning for coffee and cake.
A walk on the other side of the square took us past a bakery where every morning the aroma of newly baked bread pulled you in. There’s something about Italian bread …
Further around was a butcher shop, Antica Marcelleria Falorni, with an incredible collection of meat, small goods and cheese that made selection almost impossible.
Suffice to say our diet mostly consisted of wine, cheese, salami and bread. It was also served at all the wineries we visited with their wine tastings. One of the interesting facts is how good the inexpensive wine is and it was not difficult overindulge.
From our visits to several wineries we learned a great deal about the Sangiovese grape and the wine made from these grapes. Apparently only a small group of wineries can market their wines as Chianti and to prove it is authentic the label has a distinctive cockerel motive on its label. There is the Chianti Classico and the Chianti Classico Riserva that interested us the most.
There were several restaurants on the piazza and one in particular had my favorite version of pasta, wild boar. Although the apartment had a full kitchen it was easier to go out and eat rather than cook for ourselves. We did attempt to cook breakfast several mornings after finding a type of supermarket, Coops, tucked away several streets from the Piazza.
But as for the location of Greve in Chianti, it is very central to all the major tourist spots such as Siena, San Gimignano, and Arezzo. We visited both Siena and San Gimignano a second time this trip having stayed for three days in San Gimignano as our central base the last time we were in Tuscany.
The only downside to the latest visit was that it was not long enough but isn’t that true of any holiday?