Day: December 15, 2021

Castellina and Castelnuovo Berardegna in the Chianti area (20/08/2021)

Castellina and Castelnuovo Berardegna in the Chianti area (20/08/2021)

This was a another fairly packed day, with a lot of driving involved. First of all, of course, we got up for a walk about town. Volterra was partly surrounded by a sea of milky clouds – it looks just beautful in the dawn light.

It must have been a pretty short route – to the Punto Panoramico and back!

In fairness to me, it wasn’t down to laziness, but because I knew we had a decent journey ahead of us. Once again, there aren’t any shots of the journey, but you can find a video of our day towards the end of this blog. Just be patient!

We set out for a place we had visited before – Castellina in Chianti – as we found it the loveliest of the towns within the area. When we got there, we parked in a carpark which I thought used to be free, but this time there was a parking meter in it. I may be mistaken. Anyway, the fates were kind to us, as there were a small group of ladies ahead who seemed baffled by the machine. After they shrugged and left, I had a look, and it was broken. Yay! Free parking!

We took the pic, as it was proof that the machine was out of service, in case we need to explain our case to the Municipal Police. We ignored the poor machine and continued on up into the town instead.

If you’ve ever bought a Chianti bottle of wine, you’ll notice not only the DOCG label on the cork (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – an indication that you’re getting the genuine article, from the genuine region), but that there’s a large rooster emblem printed somewhere on the vineyard’s own labelling. Why is that? Check out this article – it explains the whole history very well. No point in me plagiarising it! In it, there’s a cool story of how the city-states of Florence and Siena used roosters to decide their borders between each other.

Chianti should be made with at least 80% Sangiovese (meaning Blood of John, rather than Saint John) grapes. Many so-called ‘table wines’ in the area are made the same way, but being outside the designated region, they don’t get the famous badge. Many taste just as good, in my opinion, and being on the dry side, they’re excellent for cooking with too.

Anyway, we wandered about the town prior to lunch, seeing if there was a restaurant that took our fancy.

We wandered down a small collection of tunnels that ran parallel to the main street, and found a restaurant there (Ristorante Sotto le Volte), and the menu looked so good. There was lady outside who was folding napkins and generally busying herself about the tables. A friendly sheepdog was napping under one of the tables outside, but was happy to acknowledge our few rubs with wags of his tail. Unfortunately, despite the lady’s presence and work-effort, she declared that the restuarant wasn’t opened for lunch, so we had to continue our quest.

There were a number of restaurants opened, but we found it hard to take our minds of the previous year’s meal in Taverna Squarcialupi. And so it called to us. We were welcomed by friendly staff, who looked at our Covid vaccination certificates, and sat the three of us in the lovely slightly air-conditioned dining room. It was far too hot to eat outside on their panoramic balcony, sadly. This was confirmed a little while later when a family who had been sat outside ran back in and asked for a table near us, which they got. Such a big difference between Castellina and Volterra at lunchtime. Volterra was getting so busy that most restaurants couldn’t accept walk-ins, even during lunch.

The meal

We took one more look at the chuch and the main medieval square (see the video).

We left then, with no parking fine(!) and amazingly came close to genuinely earning another ticket by, immediately driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Thanks, Missus Google! (Yes, I was driving!) Thankfully, it was a short street, and the driver ofthe 4×4 I met was understanding and able to move out of the way. I was guided by a kindly local the feck out of his town. And on towards the southern border of the Chianti area, to a town we’d never visited before: Castelnuvo Beradegna. We went by a rural route, so it took us the guts of an hour, but it was a fun drive.

We got parking easy enough just outside the old town. The town had an interesting effect on me. I have to say I really liked it, even though it was a ghost town when we arrived (in the middle of riposo). It had such a lovely residential area atop the main hill.

Wonder of wonders, however, we found a bar open – it had gelato, and we were baked, and in need of some cooling off. We grabbed a cone or cup each and sat outside in shade and devoured it. It was nice to see a couple of people other than ourselves. It is a lived-in town, rather than a tourist destination, but with everything more or less closed, it was time to head home. We captured a couple more shots on the way back to the car.

It was only a few kilometers to the motorway, so we headed in that direction, as we didn’t mid a quicker rather than lovelier route home. On the way, we stopped to refuel the T-Cross (not the most economical of cars). Niamh got out and managed to decipher the instructions in a couple of minutes. She got back in not a moment too soon, because the heavens opened. A cyclist stopped at the garage to take shelter underneath the pump canopy, while we headed home. Rain was rare in Tuscany during July/August, so it was a ‘Dear Diary’ moment.

There’s a video of our day below!

The only other thing I have to report from the day, is that I enjoyed this wonderful piece of deliciousness from La Sosta del Priori.

I hope you enjoyed the read. Please leave a like and let me know what you think – and also please ask me stuff!