On Sunday, July 7, I had the pleasure of taking part in the tour organized by Caf Tours called “Excursion in Chianti with Wine Tastings“. The excursion is done year round (except August 15), every day of the week (on Tuesdays and Fridays the tour includes a typical tuscan dinner as well).
The departure is set for 2 pm (we suggest getting there at least 15 minutes beforehand) on the side of Piazza della Stazione from which the “red buses” also leave (for those who are familiar with it, in front of the L’Ora Moda shop window).
The tour lasts about 5 hours. It lets tourists discover one of Tuscany’s most famed, enticing areas, and give them a “taste” of some of its finest landscape and eating delights. The excursion’s first stop is a wine estate of unique beauty and historic interest. Here, after visiting the cellars and vineyards, we can enjoy its most noteworthy wines. The trip continues on to Greve in Chianti, the area’s most important municipality, where visitors can relax and enjoy more wine tastings, buy souvenirs, or simply sip a coffee or savor a gelato in the beautiful Piazza Matteotti to return to Florence in the evening.
Right on schedule, on a day that felt as hot as Africa, I walked to the meeting point with the group.
The point chosen for departure is a good one as it is easy to find even by inexperienced tourists. On the down side, especially at certain times and periods of the year, it can be rather crowded (which complicates their staff’s work). Together with the lack of shade and Florence’s not-so-mild summer temperatures, it can be rough for tourists waiting to board.
Leaving the city in the direction of Chianti, we got a brie rundown of the afternoon program, interspersed with historic commentary on points of interests as we went by them.
The chosen wine estate is a splendid Castello from 16th century. It is fully immersed in woods and vineyards, where we spent a happy hour and a half.
Right after we arrived, we were guided by Giulia, one of the estate’s managers, to learn about the cellars. She started to introduce us to the wines that we would soon sample.
Judging from the amazed looks on the faces of the visitors as they went through this maze, surrounded by hundreds of bottles and barriques, enveloped in endless scents, the location really made an impression. The peacocks, kept as courtyard birds, also certainly didn’t escape notice. .
At the end of the visit we moved to a small area set up as a restaurant to drink (with moderation) and taste some of the traditional local foods. A plate of cold cuts and bruschette was paired with Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Chianti Classico and Chianti Classico Riserva made by the winery.
After the tasting was done (we were all still steady on our feet.) the group headed towards Greve in Chianti. Before we got there, Irene gave us an idea of what we would soon see. She also told a few anecdotes from local history (do you know the legend of the black rooster, Chianti Classico’s emblem?).
The bus dropped us off just a block from the very central Piazza Matteotti. Once we got there, we had an hour of free time to shop, taste wine, and take pictures in front of the statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano. When we got back in the bus and a careful accounting was made of everyone (you never know; not everyone can hold their drink!)) the group headed back towards Florence. On the trip, we passed the American cemetery of Falciani and along the wall of Porta Romana, all of which Irene described in detail.
As scheduled, the tour was over at 7:00 pm on the nose in the same spot where it started.
Since it was a group tour, of course, we can’t expect too much flexibility in schedules or the service. On the other hand, the tour not being too long and the staff being skilled in engaging participants and making it a nice experience throughout, make the tour definitely worth suggesting. This is especially true for those who don’t want to walk a lot, don’t have much time available, or are interested in learning about an aspect of Tuscany that is “secondary” to the more standard destinations. And it’s all a good value (it costs €45 per person) PS: No teetotalers allowed!