When speaking of Chianti, one immediately thinks of wine, closely followed by an awareness of the beauty of this territory.
Its rich landscape, history, art, food and wine truly is exceptional – with every hill being the perfect frame for a sunset and every village and church being postcard-worthy.
In San Casciano in Val di Pesa, just south of Florence, there is the Tenuta Villa le Corti, the splendid residence of the Corsini princes listed amongst the Italian Historic Houses.
The residence was built atop three underground levels that comprise the cellar, which dates back to the 1600s, when the ancestors of Duccio Corsini made a decision that greatly anticipated the current wine production methods.
This involved ordering all the farmers who cultivated the various vineyards to bring their harvested grapes to the farm. It was an unusual choice at the time, leading to the creation of the first Italian wine cooperative.
Preserved within the structure is a vast and valuable archive with unique historical documents that recount four centuries of business, battles, trade, weddings and funerals.
The estate can be visited and is also available for private and public events. “We try to best preserve each specific environment within,” explains Clotilde Corsini, regional Vice President of the Italian Historic Houses Association , “especially the room with portraits of ancestors, the protagonists of which are only the women of the family.”
The farm produces olive oil and wine. The wines produced include the Chianti Classico Le Corti, the Cortevecchia reserve and – from a nickname given to the family’s Aunt Anna – the Zac, a pure Sangiovese.
In San Casciano in Val di Pesa is the Tenuta Villa le Corti, the residence of the Corsini princes with a cellar dating back to the 1600s.
Seated at a table in the elegant tavern overlooking the cellar, Duccio Corsini opens a bottle of Fico, his most precious wine. “Filippo, my son, created it. The first harvest was in 2015. It is so named because next to the rows he chose for this project there is a fico – a fig tree – and also as the name includes his initials.
Today, Filippo is no longer with us, after a road accident in London cut his life short just one year later, in 2016.
“He loved the environment,” recalls Corsini. “He had chosen to cultivate grapes according to biodynamic principles and wanted his wine to be a full expression of these. We will continue his project.”
From San Casciano, we head south, amongst the vineyards, hills and wild boars, to reach Volpaia, an enchanting village that dates back to 1172 and still retains its medieval character.
In this area, you will be spoilt for choice for a gastronomic break.
The tradition of Chianti dishes lies in the hands of sisters Carla and Paola Barucci. The first is the owner of the restaurant La Bottega, the sign of which declares “peasant cuisine” and so it truly is. Mamma Gina works in the kitchen with Carla, whilst her father Oriano produces cold cuts and cheeses.
The eatery has a 30-year history, with homemade pasta having long been the queen. Try the ravioli and tortelli as the utmost expression of the territory. On the other side of the main piazza in Volpaia is the Bar-Ucci di Paola. Not to be missed is the Crostino Toscano topped with a liver pâté, cooked separately in an earthenware pot that is always kept warm. For those who want to learn more about the techniques, the Barucci sisters also offer cooking classes.
A short distance from Volpaia, in the municipality of Radda in Chianti, is an unmissable stop for romantics – a vineyard in the shape of a heart.
It is called Le Madri, with the Sangiovese grape being cultivated throughout the territory of the Premiata Fattoria Castelvecchi. In the midst of the rows is a terrace with breathtaking views, where American, Dutch and Italian wine lovers enjoy picnics.
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© Andrea Radic
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