Italy in Nine Parts: Greve in Chianti

Modest accomodations and hearty fare

 


Day one in Italy ended with me in the quaint town of Greve. Located in the northern reaches of the Chianti region, and only some 30 kilometers south of Florence, it’s an ideal home base for visits in the region.  The village is well-known as a source of fine wine, and is also home to several renowned restaurants.

I booked a room at the small, family run Albergo del Chianti, which is located right in the triangular piazza that forms the heart of Greve. It’s a typical Italian three star hotel, lacking in some amenities but making up for it with its rustic charm. Arriving in the evening, it was easy to find the brightly lit Piazza Giacomo Matteotti, and the quaint Albergo tucked away in its northern corner.

Travel Tip: Le Cantine di Greve in Chianti

Le Cantine is simply one of the finest winebars in Italy. Tasting through 100 different wines, from all the finest regions of Tuscany, as well as some of the best from every region of Italy, is a great way to spend a few hours. Stop by late in the afternoon and grab a plate of Falorni cured meats to pair with your glass of Chianti, Brunello, or Super Tuscan. It’s a beautiful, and spacious, place to kick back and enjoy the best that the region has to offer.

Dining and accomodations in Greve

Albergo del Chianti
The Albergo del Chianti features a lovely pool area, which I was not able to take advantage of due to  November's weather, but it’s a great feature that makes this affordable and convenient hotel a great option for travelers whose interest include, but are not limited to, wine.

Enoteca Fuori Piazza
While the main Piazza in Greve is lined with restaurants, it pays to venture out beyond its confines for authentic food and a fine selection of wines. The Enoteca Fuori Piazza is only a short stroll from the Piazza, and offers a casual environment in which to enjoy a flight of fine wines paired with a rustic menu that features daily specials, as well as a selection of artisanal antipasti. Read my review of Enoteca Fuori Piazza on Snooth.

After a day full of air travel and driving through the vibrant colors of the Tuscan countryside it was nice to check into to my cozy room and settle into my first home base of the trip. Once I took care of some business, I headed out to take in the sights of the piazza and take a peek at the stores and restaurants that line the porticos surrounding the Piazza.

Greve in Chianti is the birthplace of Giovanni da Verrazzano, so it’s no surprise that the piazza includes a statue of the famed explorer. Another landmark of the piazza is the Antica Macelleria Falorni, producers of some of the finest artisanal cured meat products to be found anywhere. It’s the place for the finest local prosciutto, so make sure you leave some time to pick some up. The products made from the local Cinta Senese and Chingiale (local breed of pig and wild boar respectively) are perfumed, tender and so rich -- they're not to be missed. I stopped by one morning and bought enough to make a pair of sandwiches for lunch. I wish life would allow that on a somewhat more regular schedule. Weekly would be perfect!

Before getting to lunch though there was the matter of dinner that had to be taken care of. After circling the Piazza once, I decided to head out and explore the rest of Greve. It wasn’t long before I happened on the Enoteca Fuori Piazza, a small winebar with tented outdoor seating in addition to the few tables inside. The menu was simple but appealing and was just what I was looking for, so in I went.

I opted to sit outside, though it was a little brisk, it was still a beautiful night worth enjoying. In order to warm things up I ordered a flight of 4 glasses of Chianti, as well as a meal of Farinace (a thick, almost porridge like soup with potato and kale), risotto con porcini, and roast beef.

The Farinace was superb! A soul warming and rustic blend of hearty vegetables and subtle flavors that woke up my palate and let me know I was now in the Italian countryside. The risotto was fine, a dryer style than I prefer but with a rich porcini flavors, and the roast beef with roasted potatoes was clean, simple and well prepared. All in all the meal was a fine match for the four wines.

2007 Lamole di Lamole Chianti Classico

Floral and fresh on the nose with notes of black raspberries and sweet, slightly medicinal herbs. This is fresh and pure in the mouth with a soft, rich quality to the sour red fruits. there's a dusting of bitter cocoa on those fruits that adds a bit of depth and complexity as well. 89pts

2007 Borgo di Sugame Chianti Classico
The nose on this is on the earthy side and a bit rubbery/leathery. On the palate this is a touch austere but well balanced with soft tannins and lovely mineral, licorice and almond laced fruit that powers through on the moderately long finish. 86pts

2006 Fontodi Chianti Classcio
A little oaky, smoky on the nose over creamy strawberry and black currant fruit tones with just a hint of green coffee. On the palate this is rich, if a bit soft, with lots of blackberry fruit and a slightly chunky feel that features some drying tannins on the finish. 87pts

2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico
This has a textbook nose of cherry, mineral, moss, tobacco and leather with woodsy undertones. On the palate this is elegant and silky with rich raspberry fruit touched with subtle hints of earth and herbs. The fruit has a nice crystallized edge to it and wonderful purity and cut finishing with a hint of mint.

The Querciabella really was the standout wine of the evening, working wonderfully with each dish. The Lamole di Lamole remained refreshing throughout the evening, but lacked the depth and length of the Querciabella. Both the Borgo di Sugame and Fontodi showed some dryness to the tannin when paired with some of the dishes. It was a lot of fun working on the pairings as giving each wine a chance to show it’s best but the day’s worth of travel finally took it’s toll on me and my thoughts turned to that small but comfortable looking bed back in the hotel room As I turned to leave Fuori Piazza I made a mental note of another restaurant directly across the street.

My room at the Albergo del Chianti was certainly modest but was fine for my needs. The breakfast they offer is somewhat above the average offered by similar hotels in Italy and certainly prepared me well for a day of winery visits.  I’ll report on the winery visits in my next email but before leaving Greve I did return to the Pizzeria La Cantina.


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Comments

  • Snooth User: brezza65
    117628 8

    Gregory,
    In 2004, I'm almost positive I went to the very same Enoteca Fuori Piazza when I was in Greve. I had tasted so much wine in the previous week that I literally could not take it any more, so that day became "beer and bruschetta" day. A nice Moretti "alla spina" (on tap) and bruschetta with so much olive oil on it, it ran down my chin with every bite. That is heaven. Love Chianti - thanks for bringing back such fond memories!Bruce

    Dec 03, 2009 at 11:51 AM


  • Snooth User: dalberts
    107021 1

    We were there in 2005 and had the most incredible meatballs in a tiny place on the square. We were ruined for meatballs. We went back last year and couldn't remember the name of the place but we knew it was in the square with the statue of Verrezano. Finally found it and they were closed! So disappointed...

    Dec 03, 2009 at 1:54 PM


  • Snooth User: randy13
    215705 5

    I have traveled extensively thru Italy for many years, however, it is Tuscany where my heart is.
    Was married in a little hilltown, Monte san Savino, a charming place.
    Everytime I see your emails pop up(especially Italy) I just stop work and daydream!

    Thanks

    Dec 03, 2009 at 1:57 PM


  • Snooth User: Philip James
    Founding Member Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    1 12,549

    Randy - great comment, that's EXACTLY the kind of feeling we'd like our emails to generate!

    Dec 03, 2009 at 2:24 PM


  • Snooth User: darbenn
    286567 3

    We were there in Sept for my best friends 50th birthday. What a beautiful little town, delicious food and fantastic wine. I wish we could have stayed there for the entire trip. We also have a very good friend who lives in Reggio Emilia that made fried zuccini flowers for us a few years ago, when we left the restaurant in the square I saw that they too were serving them, but they had just ran out. If you ever have the chance, try them. They are fabulous!!!!

    Dec 03, 2009 at 6:26 PM


  • Snooth User: baribig
    140974 10

    I was just there in August. I drink nothing but Italian wines (I am Italian, haha), I learned so much about Italian wines at La Cantina di Greve from our driver and tour guide Max. I need to go back soon!

    Dec 03, 2009 at 8:29 PM


  • Snooth User: cigarman168
    Hand of Snooth
    227923 332

    Nothing to say just want to go there asap.

    Dec 03, 2009 at 9:52 PM


  • Snooth User: winejap
    Hand of Snooth
    79176 3

    Gregory,
    It was wonderful to to read your article on Greve, one of our favorite places in Italy. What a charming town with one of the most fabulous Fattoria's in Toscana. Trust me, my husband & I have been in the wine business for over 30 years and we do love our wine and food. For anyone fortunate enough to travel to Greve, you must visit Sandro and Nicoletta Landini, the owners and winemakers of Fattoria Viticcio. The wines are truly amazing!!!! They also run a bed & breakfast with beautiful accomodations that have great views of the hills of Tuscany. Oh, to be there now! Please stop by and try the wines and while you're there, don't forget to taste the olive oil also. A place you will never want to leave and dream of often when you are forced to return home and to reality! Enjoy!!!

    Dec 03, 2009 at 10:12 PM


  • Snooth User: kkerkgrom
    162870 1

    We stumbled into Le Cantine di Greve on a brisk, rainy October ('06) afternoon. We were hungry and getting wetter by the moment. Most of the restaurants appeared to have just closed after the lunch period, so we stopped at the I. And there it was - and it was open. So down we went and I felt like Alice and what a Wonderland for any wine aficionado to fall into! Having purchased a preloaded tasting card, we were able to try whatever we pleased when we were ready. In addition to measured wine pours, we used our cards for plates of anti pasti and measured pours of olive oils or balsamic vinegar. While enjoying wine, tuscan bread with a drizzle of sweet balsamic and the anti pasti plates, we met and exchanged tips about other good stop with other travelers who'd happened into Le Cantine.

    If you're ever in Greve, don't miss Le Cantine! I can't wait for an opportunity to return!

    Dec 03, 2009 at 10:21 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 169,360

    You certainly made me hungry for italian dried meats. Man, that looks like you had a good time. I'm glad you like the 2006 Querciabella Chianti Classico, that's one of my favorite Chianti from 2006. Great stuff.

    Can't wait for the next installment.


    THANKS

    Dec 03, 2009 at 10:35 PM


  • Snooth User: staffordj
    317622 3

    I live in Greve in Chianti, now for 15 years. Actualy I live in Panzano in Chianti. Moved here from NYC. Big change!! Some of the best wines in Italy come from Panzano, including Rampolla, La Massa and especially Casaloste. Stop by for wine tasting anytime. Try the restaurant Mangiando Mangiando in the square of Greve and also visit the meat market Falorni, both owned by the same owner as Le Cantine.

    Dec 04, 2009 at 2:41 AM


  • Snooth User: bigcubfan
    286741 2

    My wife and I spent twelve days in Tuscany in May of this year. It was the hottest May in over 25 years, which forced me to drink a little more white wines that usual. But it was sunny and beautiful every day.

    We spent a few hours at La Cantina de Greve and had a great time. Try the Brasaola (cured beef) from Falorni, the best butcher in the region according to the locals.

    Not to be missed for a great experience. There's a little vineyard just west of Greve (Altiero, which was my Dad's name) that only makes two types of wine, along with olive oil. My wife and I scheduled a visit and lunch with them. We received a wonderful tour of the vineyard by Paolo and Samuella and then had a private lunch with just them and Paolo's mother and father. My wife and I were blown away by their friendliness and sense of humor. The tour and lunch was out of this world. For 20 euro we got a great tour of a tiny wine production facility, a wine tasting of several vintages, and a wonderful homemade lunch. By far the best part was the company and friendship of the family.

    If you visit them, please say the Tracy and Filippo say Buon Giorno!

    Dec 04, 2009 at 9:42 AM


  • Greg: With you on the Greve in Chianti. My wife and I stayed in the same Albergo and got to be friends with the family owners. Dad would come in after tending his vineyard and mom was in charge of the cooking and wife did the cleaning. Great time. We used Greve as the hub of our wheel visiting Volpaia, Verrazzano, Fontodi and many other Chianti and Super Tuscan oases you mention. In Volpaia we ate at a little café adjacent to the tasting tower. The young couple running it had just returned from several years in the U.S. He, the chef, and she the server and manager, took us to the very private tasting room for Volpaia. There were bottles there that were centuries old…amazing (got pictures, too).

    Dec 08, 2009 at 3:58 PM


  • We were in Volpaia in April of 2008 and had one of the most memorable meals of our lives at La Botega. The Ribolita and Pasta with white truffle were not to be believed. Along with the wine, the olive oil produced in Volpaia is remarkable. Greve is a charm. It seems untouched pretty much and not really overrun with crazed tourists. At least in April. Keep writing. We were in Umbria this year and love reading about the places we visited from another's prospective.

    Dec 08, 2009 at 5:20 PM


  • My meal at in Greve in Chianti was chinghiale and pappardelle. I can still taste it.

    Dec 08, 2009 at 6:14 PM


  • Snooth User: slick50
    302006 1

    It was to see recognition for this wonderful place. When I was a younger man, I met the most beautiful Tuscan woman (24 years old) while studying in Florence whose family is a fixture in Greve. Her family has an villa/estate on one of the hill tops and I spent many days, weeks, and months on top of the world in Greve drinking her family's Chianti Classica, dining in the square, shopping in the weekend market, learning Italian and making love.

    But alas, all fantasy becomes reality. After one and one-half years, I had to return to the States to embark on my career (lawyer). There was one aborted attempt to rekindle the romance and return to Greve, however, in 18 years I have not returned.

    Your article, while brief, opened a flood of wonderful memories. If I could make any recommendation if one can afford it, it would be to rent a villa in Greve and travel around to a bunch of the hills towns in the Chianti region. Oh, and find yourself a beautiful woman to be your guide.

    Dec 09, 2009 at 6:51 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 213,728

    Super. Glad to bring back so many memories and see that my love for Greve, and Chianti as a region, is shared by so many. Thanks for all the wonderful comments.

    Dec 11, 2009 at 11:28 AM


  • Snooth User: MATEL
    332443 3

    On my recent Chianti tour, we experienced a superb tasting at Vecchie Terre di Montefili (in Panzano). Their Bruno di Rocca 2004 old vine Sangiovese was the highlight of our trip.
    Followed this tasting with another tasting luncheon of 2006 Chianti Classico at ristoranti Nerbone in Greve.
    This wonderful first day of our 6 day tour actually turned out to be the HIGHLIGHT !!!

    Apr 21, 2010 at 3:31 PM


  • My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy in 2011 (waiting on those frequent flyer miles!) after 23 years in the food and wine business. It is a sin we haven't made it there already! Thank you for the article and the comments. This is the kind of little town I am looking for to settle in for a week or so. It sounds utterly perfect.

    Jul 19, 2010 at 3:37 PM


  • My wife and I LOVED our visit to Greve and especially the wine bar, La Cantina di Greve in Chianti. Where else can you sample some of the finest wines in Tuscany? Although my wife is a white wine drinker, I had probably 15 times more reds at my disposal. WOW, what a concept.....a debit card, a wine glass and so many wines to sample. I drink Chianti Classico Reserve on a regular basis as a result of our fabulous visit to Greve.

    Jul 20, 2010 at 8:08 PM


  • Albergo del Chianti gets great reviews and sounds like a charming place to stay. We don't think we can wait until next year, so we are looking into October of this year! Yes!!!

    Jul 20, 2010 at 8:18 PM


  • Snooth User: Altheam
    516514 10

    My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Italy on our honeymoon in 2003 and only got a tease of Tuscany. In 2007, we went to Chianti for 10 days with some friends. Stayed in a villa between Greve and Castellina so visited both towns often. There is so much to love about this area but the people and the house wines stand out. We loved every minute and would go back tomorrow!! (Sigh)

    Jul 20, 2010 at 10:52 PM


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