Luxury and boutique hotels in Chianti
Chianti, at the heart of Tuscany, encompasses immensely charming abbey-, winery- and castle-capped cities. See Siena’s striped churches; Florence’s museums, Medici tombs and Madonnas; Greve’s mediaeval relics; and enough vineyards to keep your glasses topped up and toast-ready. Wine takes precedence here, with a strict Chianti Classico production zone and eight subzones for variations on the titular tipple. Take note: the typical straw fiascos are mostly rustic set-dressing nowadays. Emigrés and celebrities have snapped up Chianti’s crumbling homesteads, earning it the nickname ‘Chiantishire’; but the stomping ground of Machiavelli, Leonardo and Galileo has an incorruptible charm, and remains one of the world’s most enchanting destinations.
When to go
In summer Chianti throngs with tourists and fair-weather villa owners; it’s best to visit in September or October when temperatures are milder. Visit the Chianti Classico wine festival in early September, when regional producers bring a mind-boggling variety of top vintages to Greve.
PlanesFlorence Airport (www.aeroporto.firenze.it) is just a short drive or taxi ride from the city centre – a good launch-off point for exploring the region – and services flights from major European destinations; or you can fly to Pisa International Airport (www.pisa-airport.com), just under an hour’s drive away from the heart of Chianti. If you happen to have a private jet at your disposal, Siena has a very small airport where you can land it.
AutomobilesDesignated drivers will have to forego the region’s reds, but once they’ve driven past swathes of multi-coloured vineyards and witnessed panoramic vistas of timeless stone-walled towns, they’ll be glad for a set of wheels. Chianti’s roads offer spectacular scenery (notably along the Chiantigiana road) and it’s the easiest way to see a good portion of the sprawling region.