Gallo Nero

by Johnny

Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t find a farm or winery to work at on such short notice. Actually we could, but we weren’t really interested in building compost toilets, breeding Arabian horses or cleaning chickens. Instead, we found our own place to rent in Italy’s Chianti region that gave us a great weekly rate, so we were off to the rolling hills, olive groves and vineyards of Tuscany…not a bad consolation prize.

The owner of our apartment picked us up at the bus station and took us to our place. We couldn’t believe our eyes. The “apartment” was actually a little house, complete with front yard, huge bedroom, separate living room and brand new kitchen. It was most definitely a home away from home for the week.

Our place behind the trees Our patio
Our front yard Our side yard
Inside our pad

We based ourselves in the small town of Greve in Chianti, the unofficial capital of the region about an hour bus ride south of Florence. After walking the entire town in about 30 minutes, Anna and I got a little worried that we might become bored out of our minds staying here a week, but we grew to love Greve more each day. The town’s focal point is the triangular shaped Piazza Matteotti, which is lined with enough enotecas (wine bars), macellerias (butchers) and other specialty food stores to keep you busy for a month. The piazza also hosts a festive Saturday market, where Anna picked up some goodies for the folks back home.

Over the course of the week, we made friends with the owner of a homemade pasta shop where we’d pick up ingredients for dinner, the owner of a made-to-order panini shop where we’d grab lunch, and the waiter of a wine bar (Bottega del Moro) right down the street who would let us use the wi-fi and give us free bruschetta whenever we stopped by.

We also tasted our fair share of the region’s wine at Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti. It’s an underground wine cellar that has hundreds of Italy’s wine available for tasting. You buy a prepaid card, stick it into one of the several taps located throughout the cellar, and out comes your tasting. €10 got us each about eight tastes. It’s a little touristy, but a great way to learn about and try all the different wines from the area.

Piazza Matteotti
Piazza Matteotti during the Saturday market
Market goodies More goodies
Via Roma, Greve’s main street
Picking out sandwich toppings is hard work Success!
Pesto pasta and olive spread compliments of the pasta man
Wine tasting at Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti More wine tasting

After reading a couple guidebooks that were left in our apartment, it was clear that the best way to truly experience Tuscany, and Chianti in particular, is to rent some wheels and explore all the small hill towns on your own. This was great news because it had been a couple weeks since we’d last rented a scooter, and I needed a fix real bad. Luckily, there was a place right in town that offered daily scooter rentals. Much to Anna’s chagrin, however, all the pink Vespas were gone when we got there and we were stuck with your run-of-the-mill grey scooter.

Armed and ready, we headed out for a day of exploring along Le Strade del Gallo Nero (The Road of the Black Cock). Settle down, perverts. Le Strade del Gallo Nero refers to the wine road of Chianti Classico, the region’s most famous red wine whose symbol is a black rooster. We made pit stops in the picturesque Chianti towns of Montefioralle, Panzano, Radda, Castellina and Lamole. Each town offered incredible views of the Tuscan countryside, especially in the afternoon. The way the late day sun would throw shadows on the hills, vineyards and stone farmhouses made us feel like we were living inside a painting.

Vineyards near Lamole
On the road again Mothers lock up your daughters
Balanced our camera on the scooter for a snapshot Stoked!
The grape harvest is just around the corner, so the bunches were huge and plentiful
Montefioralle Montefioralle
Radda Radda
View near Castellina Some pretty sweet pads

And since no blog post would be complete without some serious food pictures, I present to you our lunch at Ristorante la Castellana in the town of Montefioralle…definitely worth the mile-long hike uphill.

How ’bout that view?
Fresh country artichoke Pappardelle with wild boar ragú
Anna’s truffle ravioli made me wish I had a cardiologist on speed-dial

Tomorrow we’re off to Florence, and we’re ecstatic to be meeting up with our friends Marisa and Brian for a few days of museum hopping, gelato eating and, who knows, maybe even some more scooter riding.


2 Responses to “Gallo Nero”

  1. Looks like you’re having a fabulous time, Anna!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: