Chianti is an area of Tuscany, Italy made famous by the red wine of the same name. It has much to offer for a visitor interested in wine, food and natural beauty. Many of the wineries are open for a tour and a tasting, and some offer accommodation services as well.
Florence Siena Greve (Greve in Chianti) Reggello San Casciano in Val di Pesa Tavarnelle Val di Pesa Radda Castellina Gaiole Greve Castelnuovo Berardenga Montemarciano
Chianti is above all a wine zone. It is not an administrative region and includes parts of the Tuscan provinces of Florence, Siena, Arezzo and Pisa. The Chianti DOCG appellation is divided into seven subregions (Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rufina), of which Classico is the most famous.
The Chianti Classico region in turn is defined by the towns between Florence and Siena: Greve, Panzano, Castellina, Gaiole and Radda. Almost all the famous Chianti estates are located near one of these towns, although Rufina is to the east of Florence.
In addition to the red wine, many producers make the dessert wine Vin Santo del Chianti as well as “Super Tuscan” wines that do not adhere to the DOC regulations. Some also make olive oil.
From abroad, usually the best way to reach Chianti is to fly to an airport in Tuscany, such as the Pisa or Florence airport, or some other major airport in Italy. Alternatively, from Central Europe one might want to take a train to Italy. Once in Italy and preferably in Tuscany, you have to find your way to Florence; this will be easy as the city has good train connections to the rest of the country. From Florence there are several alternatives to get to Chianti: rental car, bus, taxi, etc.
Precise instructions are difficult to give since it depends so much on from where you are departing and exactly where you will be staying (in Florence, in Siena, in Greve, or some other place in the region).
Chianti is easiest to explore with a car. The most likely place to begin the trip is Florence, where rental services are abundant. The most important road to know is the Chiantigiana from Florence to Siena, as it penetrates the heart of the region, Chianti Classico.
Without car, the region is accessible with SITA buses from Florence. The hills of Chianti are a magnificent place for bike tours. Cycling you can enjoy at best the beautiful landscape of this region. You will rarely be cycling in flat roads, but you will also seldom have to climb steep passes (only, be ware of the hot hours of the day in the Summer). You can start from Greve, for example, where you can rent a bike.
For someone interested in museums, churches and such things it is not necessary to leave Florence or Siena. However, the Chianti area can be an excellent base from which to explore Tuscany as whole without having to stay in these crowded cities. The countryside is beautiful, and absolute gems that should be visited are the hamlets of Montefioralle and Volpaia, and the beautiful towns of Greve, Panzano, Radda and Castellina.
What to do in Chianti
The region is an invaluable treasure for those who are interested in exploring the eno-gastronomic culture of Tuscany.
See also: Wine tourism#Italy
With serious competition only from a few neighboring regions in Tuscany and from Piedmont, Chianti is one of Italy’s prime wine regions. The best way to tour the wineries and sample their products is on the last Sunday of May when many producers throughout Italy open their doors for the festival of Cantine Aperte. Tastings are free and reservations unnecessary, so if you like wine and happen to be in Tuscany at the time, this is a fantastic opportunity for you. You should however keep in mind that not all the wine produced in Chianti is exceptional and that some of the best producers do not even participate in Cantine Aperte, so it makes sense to plan ahead and be choosy.
Olive groves are also the region’s pride, and while it is not normally possible to visit an oil press, olive oil can be purchased directly from the producers. Olives are pressed in November and December and the olio nuovo or new oil, which is very piquant for the first several months, is especially prized on bruschetta and ribollita.
Food in the region is very commonly made with Chianti, in cases of wine sauces, and is in any case well paired with a glass of Chianti. You may want to choose more robust Chiantis with food like cinghiale (wild boar) or bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine-style charred steak) than with pasta, but it’s quite common to have a quartino or share a bottle of the house Chianti with an entire meal in trattorie in the region. Of course, if you are a lusty drinker or with a larger group, you can more easily choose one bottle with the primi piatti (pasta or soup) and another with the secondi piatti (usually fowl or red meat in this region).
If you have access to your own cooking facilities, you may want to follow the cook’s adage that food tastes better when you use a good wine in your sauces, and then drinking some of that same wine with the meal brings out the flavours of both the food and the wine better.
If you want to go to Chianti, the natural assumption is that you want to drink the wine. It is made with the sangiovese grape, although lesser quantities of other grape varieties may be added. There are different philosophies of making Chianti: some prefer traditional blends with sangiovese and other local grapes (including white ones), some use international varieties such as merlot, and finally there are those who use only sangiovese for their Chianti.
The taste of the wine depends a lot on the producer’s decisions, but also on the exact place where the vines are grown. Sangiovese has been known as a rather difficult grape to grow, and differences in the land affect the taste of the resulting wine. Traditionally Chianti is a light wine with high acidity with a slightly bitter but fruity taste and berry aromas. As international markets demand high-fruit, high-alcohol wines, Chianti is changing as well, and more modern versions have a fuller, although less recognizable taste.
Where to stay in Chianti
There are lots of lovely hill-top towns in Chianti with plenty of good hotels and B&Bs. However, if you want to get away from the traffic and noise, then this is your chance to stay in one of dozens of ‘agriturismi’ in the area, working farms that also rent out apartments or rooms to travellers who would like to experience at close hand the Chianti countryside. It makes good sense to pick a central location and to use this as a base for your trips to Florence and Siena, as well as your trips to the beautiful towns and villages, like Castellina in Chianti, San Gimignano, Panzano, Radda, and so on.
Already eleven Corona Infections at the Pope’s Swiss Guard
In the Vatican, seven other members of the pope’s Swiss Guard tested positive for the corona virus . This increased the number of demonstrably infected guardsmen to eleven, as the Swiss Guard announced on Thursday. All infected people had been isolated, the message said. The brightly uniformed guards protect Pope Francis and his residence.
A major corona outbreak among the guards could therefore also be dangerous for the Pope, 83 years of age belongs to the risk group. The Argentinean pope had part of his right lung removed at the age of 21 due to severe pneumonia but he is considered relatively healthy for his age.
The Catholic media platform “Vatican News” reported in early October that the guardsmen had been asked to “be careful when dealing with the Pope” because of Corona. Face mask and social distancing are required, however a young man who was interviewed about his recruit swearing in (October 4th) said that Francis had already shaken his hand.
Corona measures in Italy – Italy reacts to the 2nd Wave of Covid-19
Italy introduced a nationwide facemask requirement in the open due to the increase in new infections. If you don’t wear a mask when leaving your apartment, you risk a fine of up to one thousand euros, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte recently announced. You do not need to wear a face mask when you are doing sport. The regulations do not apply in private rooms or in places where only one family is staying. Children under six years of age are also exempt from this obligation.
In view of the rising numbers, Italy’s Minister of Health Roberto Speranza also ordered mandatory tests for travelers from Great Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic.
Another measure taken by the government shows how deep the shock of the first wave of more than 30,000 deaths still sits: It passed a law that prohibits the Italian regions from adopting measures that are less restrictive than those taken by Rome. However, you have the option of setting even stricter rules. Some regions, such as Lazio and Campania, had already decided that the public must wear a facemask.
Lombardy Coronavirus Covid-19 Outbreak – Cases Quarantine Deaths Stats to Italy
Lombardy or Lombardia is a northern region of Italy, and with 10 million people is the most populous one. Producing 1/5th of Italy’s GDP, it is also the mightiest economically. Geographically, Lombardy encompasses both Alps and Prealps in the north, and relatively flat plains in the south along the river Po and its tributaries. Between them there are many scenic lakes, and the alpine backdrop makes even the low-lying cities picturesque and the air rather fresh.
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Lombardy is heavily industrialized, although most of the industry is actually not heavy, but rather mid-sized specialized machinery-building and other assembly and engineering firms, as well as consumer industries such as foodstuffs and apparel. The regional capital, Milan, is Italy’s second-largest city and the foremost centre of commerce and a global fashion capital. Smaller cities also have considerable economic might, and have had so for many centuries, hence Lombardy is the region of Italy with the most UNESCO World Heritage List sites – and simply, a lot of history and scenic views to explore and enjoy.
- Lombardian Alps and Prealps (provinces of Bergamo, Brescia and Sondrio)
- Lake Como (provinces of Como and Lecco)
- Southern Lombardy (provinces of Cremona, Lodi, Mantova and Pavia)
- Grande Milano (provinces of Milan and Monza and Brianza)
- Milan (Milano, the capital of the province) – shares with Paris the title of fashion capital of the world, and is Italy’s second city.
- Bergamo – a fairytale pastel-coloured city perched atop a hillside, and the gate to Bergamo Alps
- Brescia – a major industrial powerhouse since the Ancient Roman times, and a UNESCO World Heritage List
- Como – the city that gave the name to the popular lake
- Cremona – home of Stradivarius violins, but also a wealth of ornate romanesque architecture
- Lecco – a little and charming city situated on Como’s lake.
- Mantua (Italian: Mantova) – the Ducal Palace has a cycle of frescoes by Mantegna that no art lover should miss.
- Sondrio – the northernmost provincial capital situated amidst alpine mountain ranges
- Varese – capital of the namesake province full of lakeside resorts, just 30 minutes from Malpensa airport
- The magnificent lakes of Lake Como – take boat trips in the shadow of the Alps to the picturesque villages of Bellagio, Varenna and Tremezzo – Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda and Lake Lugano.
- The tiny village of Erbusco, home of the award-winning wines of Franciacorta and L’Albereta, the country inn of Gualtiero Marchesi, one of Italy’s premier chefs
- The peninsula of Sirmione, on the south shore of Lake Garda
- The Caves of Catullo, an archaeological site of a former Roman villa situated on the tip of the Sirmione peninsula
- The Sirmione Spa, the largest privately owned thermal treatment centre in Italy
- Val Camonica : UNESCO heritage site, medieval towns, castles, holy art in churches, roman sanctuary and theatre/amphitheatre, ski sports.
- Oltrepò Pavese : Wine region in the utmost southern part of Lombardy, 70km from Milan, part of the Pavia province, medieval towns, castles, stunning views.
The Longobardis occupied the Peninsula in the 6th century, and the territory has been named after them ever since.
Lombardy is a prosperous region with fertile soil and a temperate climate. As in Piedmont, the Po Valley is the site of much heavy industry. High mountains in the north, marking Italy’s frontier with Switzerland, provide excellent skiing and climbing.
Three of Italy’s four busiest airports are in Lombardy:
- Milan Malpensa Airport is an intercontinental airport, and Italy’s second aviation hub after Rome Fiumicino. It has multiple direct connections to Africa, Asia and North America, as well as across Europe, where it is served by both full-service and low-fare carriers.
- Milano Linate is Milan’s city airport, served by business-oriented flights to European major commercial centres, as well as a dense Italian domestic network.
- Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport is served almost exclusively by low-fare carriers, taking advantage of its proximity to both Milan and the Alps.
Despite only Linate being in the city and province of Milan, all three airports are marketed as serving the city. One can easily get to other destinations in the province from them, without necessarily changing in Milan. There is also a small airport in Brescia, which in recent years has seen next to no scheduled traffic.
Travel by train to Lombardy
Road and train links connect the region with Switzerland. As Switzerland is not part of the EU, there is a possibility that you will be delayed by checks at the border, although these are infrequent and usually not rigorous. Remember your passport.
There is a relatively dense railway network connecting cities and towns in Lombardy, although the layout is intricate and getting from one place to another may not be straightforward. You should be able to reach your destination within 1 or 2 hours by train. Otherwise, buses and minibuses link important destinations, especially those popular with tourists. Hubs are usually in regional centres, as well as near major railway stations and airports; you can try to change there if there are no direct connections. Regional train network is entirely managed by Trenord.
Regione Lombardia offers a good travel planner that lets you query the whole public transportation system.
If you plan to travel a lot, it might be worth buying a io viaggio ovunque in Lombardia pass ticket. Those tickets let you travel without limit on the entire public transport system in Lombardy, including regional trains, buses and city public transportation systems, but excluding some ferry boat lines. Although expensive, they can easily be a cheaper option than regular tickets if you travel long distances. Passes are sold at railway stations (at ticket box or automatic vending machines) and at ATM automatic vending machines. You can buy 1, 2, 3 or 7 day passes (16€, 27€, 32.5€, 43€ respectively – February 2020).
The railway company Trenord offers some good travel packages, under the Trenord Free Time name. The package usually includes a ticket to an attraction or a trip proposal and a train ticket to get to the destination. Most of them are really useful only if you depart from Milan. It’s worth to take a look at the offers as they can also suggest you some new or lesser known itinerary that you may like.
As the Autostrada A4 runs across Lombardy, with the road system radiating from its junctions, you can get around by car as well. The A4 frequently gets congested though and traffic jams can be long and excruciating, especially around Milan. Be aware that Italians drive fast and make no allowances for foreigners, so be sure you are OK with keeping up with the traffic and occasional displays of impatience from other drivers.
Milan, Bergamo and Brescia have efficient and extensive public transportation systems.
What to see in
- Milan Fashion Weeks draw crowds of fashionistas to Milan every year.
- La Scala in Milan is a mecca for opera aficionados.
- You can enjoy water sports or more relaxed boating on the lakes.
- The Alps offer opportunities for hiking or skiing.
Lombardy’s most famous culinary inventions are minestrone soup and osso buco (literally “ox knuckles”). To the west of Milan lie miles of rice fields, where the rice for risotto alla milanese is grown. Other typical dishes of the area include salumi (cold cuts) and polenta.
As in many other areas of Northern Italy, the aperitivo (pre-meal drink with appetisers, for which a small supplement might be charged) is very popular.
The wineries in Franciacorta, around Erbusco, produce many excellent wines. The region has been elevated to the status of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Other remarkable zones for wine are Oltrepò Pavese (which is the zone around Pavia on the south banks of Po river) and the countrysides around Garda Lake.
Valtellina also produces excellent wines, famous for their strong taste and flavour.
As every big city in the world, Milan has also many high quality restaurants, wine bars and Enoteche (wine store) where you can find high class wines from all over the world.
Where to stay in Lombardy
Large cities, like Milan, Bergamo or Brescia, are important business centres, so they have sizeable bases of business-oriented hotels. They are local hubs with connections to destinations within their provinces, and getting between them is also reasonably quick via a variety of means of transportation (trains, express buses or cars across the A4). Do note that accommodation in Milan is generally expensive, and prices skyrocket during major events or fairs, such as the Milan Fashion Week.
Destinations along the lines of the lakes, as well as those in the Alps, are popular with tourists, so you will find a variety of accommodation options there, from luxurious resort hotels to simple B&Bs.
While Milan features many of the usual tourist traps and con acts, as well as sizeable number of pickpockets due to the number of tourists there, other destinations are generally safe, and you can feel secure and welcome there. Do note, however, that in case you need to contact the police they can have very limited English skills and also may not be able to help foreigners much.
To the east is Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto, to the south is Emilia-Romagna and Piedmont is to the south and west. Switzerland lies to the north.
Current Covid-19 Infections in Italy, Lombardy
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Timeline of Covid-19 Infections in Italy, Lombardy
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