Greve in Chianti is the birthplace of the famous Tuscan explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, the man who discovered the New York Harbor and in fact has a bridge there named after him.[readmore] There is a statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano here in the Piazza Matteotti, a gently sloping square which is the hub of life in Greve and where in fact they have their outdoor market on Saturdays and other special days throughout the year. Around this square under the graceful porticoes you will see many local shops and wine stores. The famous butcher shop Falorni is here and has been for 500 years!
At Falorni’s you will be welcome to taste free samples of much of their local productions, including their delicious boar salami and prosciutto. We can’t come to Greve in Chianti without tasting some of its wonderful local wines including the Chianti Classico. At “Le Cantine” you will be able to taste more than 100 different wines, olive oils, vin santo and grappa, many produced in the Chianti region.
Next stop on the way to Siena is Monteriggioni. This is one of the best known and classic walled towns in Tuscany. Also on the Via Francigena, this village was built on a hill by the Senese between 1213 and 1219 to overlook the ancient Roman road, the Via Cassia. This was a perfect position allowing for surveillance of the valleys below in the direction of the city of Florence, which was the historic enemy of Siena. We’ll be making a lunch stop here at a typical trattoria where we’ll enjoy some mouth-watering Tuscan food before we go on our way Siena.
No trip to Tuscany is complete without a day trip to Siena, the birthplace of the beloved Italian Saint Catherine. This beautiful city made of brown Siena-colored bricks (so that’s how they named the color!), its jumble of narrow streets and delightful squares, the medieval towers that make such a spectacular skyline, its spectacular cathedral, the tall and trim Torre del Mangia, all together create an enticing atmosphere almost like stepping back in time. Siena is built on three hills and is home to one of the most authentic and important Gothic cathedrals south of the Alps.
Despite the city’s architectural masterpieces, it is the unusual shell-shaped Piazza del Campo that receives the most consideration having been seen in numerous films and photographs. This brick covered square is used twice a year for the famous “Palio” horserace, an event that involves the entire population and is considered one of the most important events in the life of the Senese people. This reckless bareback race is run on July 2nd and August 16th, has Roman origins but has first been officially recorded in 1283.
A kind of happy frenzy rules over Siena during the time leading up to the Palio and visitors can get the chance to observe the locals during the many ceremonies that are involved in the “Palio” race. Almost anything will be done to win this extremely competitive race and bring home the “Palio” a silk banner that will proudly displayed in the “contrada” or neighborhood it represents.