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Chianti Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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My wife and I will be spending four days in Florence and four days in the Chianti countryside in mid June of this year. Our research into restaurants and wine tours has been greatly aided by exisiting egullet threads.

However we are struggling with the accomodations side of things. We would like to find a good centrally located boutique hotel in Florence (4-5 stars) and pleasant country style accomodations, probably in the Sienna area.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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For 4+ stars in Florence try:

Plaza Lucchesi - phl@plazalucchesi.it

Helvetia & Bristol - reservation_hbf@charminghotels.it

For Siena I would suggest an argiturismo in the Chianti countryside:

Querceto in Castellina - querceto@chiantinet.it

Castello di Tornano in Giaole - castellotornano@chiantinet.it

Here is a link to search for agriturismi

click here

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  • 2 weeks later...

As the title suggests, i'll be making my first sojourn to the motherland this summer. Will probably be for around 10 days starting the 2nd week in September. I speak nothing more than a few words of the language. I'll be staying here:

http://www.luccavillas.com/html/podere_cre...a_rental_i.html

Was looking for some tips/advice on things to see, places to eat, and vineyards to visit. Appreciate any and all help that i can get. I'm in my mid 20's, so any nightlife advice would be welcome as well. :biggrin: thanks in advance

Yield to Temptation, It may never come your way again.

 --Lazarus Long

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Go to Badia a Coltibuono (it should be on the map). It is an ancient abbey high up in the hills, with a great restaurant for lunch. The estate is owned by Lonenza de Medici and her husband, and her son runs the restaurant. She also does her $7,000/week cooking classes on the premises. The estate also produces a famous Chianti Classico and great olive oil. Absolutely beautiful spot!

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Try this site: Via Travel Design

The owners specialize in foodie and wine destinations throughout Italy and France. I'm certain they'll have some great advice and be able to assist you in getting vineyard tours, restaurant reservations, etc.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Lucca is one of the most picturesque areas of Tuscany and one of my favorite places to visit. It is very nicely located making trips to Firenze and Pisa easy drives. Lucca itself is charming. The beautiful hills outside of Lucca produce my favorite olive oils in Italy and some excellent wines too. Look for the wines and oils of Colle Verde (great syrah called Nero di Spinosa) and the fine wines made by Tenueta di Valgiano.

In Lucca try to eat at Buatino and Il Mecenate (my favorite in town), but don't be afraid to stop at the little trattorie up in the hills where the food is simple, cheap and delicious. Often the menu is just a few items written on a chalkboard. You will be shocked by the great local wine selection at some of these places.

Don't miss Pisa - everyone talks about the tower but the Cathedral, Baptismal and cemetery (don't miss the cemetery - home to some of the most scary paintings in Italy) are even more impressive. In Pisa I love La Mescita - the food is excellent, but the wine list is outstanding with tremendous prices. Osteria dei Cavalieri is also very good.

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  I'm in my mid 20's, so any nightlife advice would be welcome as well.

The nightlife out in the countryside of Lucca where you are staying consists of watching the stars and listening to the cignale (wild boars) rummaging through the vineyards. If you have a television you will get a chance to watch the fine Italian television programming. Italian television has a unique ability to turn every type of program produced into a 'girlie show'.

When in town ask some of the younger waiters at the restaurants where the discos are. Discos are about it for nightlife. Sorry - Italian pop music got stuck in the 70's.

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I was there last June. Through the hotel we stayed at, we set up a car service to pick us up and drive us through Tuscany. Through vineyards in Chianti and a very small town called San Gimigmomo which was fantastic. We spent an hour or two there and continued to move on.

The driver spoke perfect English. We told him we wanted to taste oils and wines so he ended up taking us to the Machiavelli vineyard (among 3 or 4 others). He knew the chef so we walked in sat down at a table, he served us real Italian bruschetta and opened 2 bottles of wine all at no charge. We ended up buying some oil and a few bottles of a white they have which was real good.

Driving around that area is very difficult since the roads are about as wide as a postage stamp.

Enjoy the trip, it's outstanding there.

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Lucca is high on the list of places I fantasize about retiring to. Not yet mentioned: coffee at Cafe Cubana, a walk atop the beautiful city wall in the early morning or late afternoon, and a concert inside the wall.

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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Tuscany is possibly the greatest place I've ever been to.

A Traveller's Wine Guide to Italy (The Traveller's Wine Guides)

by Stephen Hobley, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Francesco Venturi (Photographer)

The Food and Wine Lover's Companion to Tuscany

by Carla Capalbo

are great resources if you want to visit wineries in Tuscany or other parts of Italy. Wine touring in Tuscany is not like wine touring in California where you can stop in for a quick taste and tour on the spur of the moment. They are generally happy to meet you and give tastings and tours with an appointment. This is infinately better than the more casual drop-in, however, and well worth the effort. It is not uncommon to be met by the owners themselves. While you are not obligated to purchase any wine, it is generally the polite thing to do, especially if you made the appointment yourself. Some particularly memorable experiences I had were Castello di Monsanto in Barberino Val d'Elsa in Chianti where we were hosted by the owner/winemaker's daughter, Laura Bianchi and Avignonesi in Montepulciano, where we got to see the grapes drying for and taste their amazing vin santo. Avignonesi also has a restaurant that needs to be pre-booked. Another great restaurant in the area of Montepulciano is La Grotta, beside the sublime San Biagio Church. Altesino in Montalcino is also well worth a visit.

A fabulous cheesemaker between Pienza and Montepulciano is Formaggi Silvana Cugusi. They make the best pecorino I've ever had.

San Gimignano, Pienza, Monteriggioni, Sant' Antimo are all worth visiting, but my favorite city was Siena. Do not miss sitting at a cafe in the Piazza del Campo surrounded by the Torre de la Mangia (how can an egulleteer go wrong here :biggrin: ) and the Palazzo Pubblico. The Duomo of Siena rivals that of Firenze and must not be missed if the floor coverings are off to expose the incredible inlaid floors. I believe they are usually removed for a week or two towards the end of September.

Having a villa is a great way to experience Tuscany. we went with another family. Each day we would eat either lunch or dinner at a restaurant and cook the other meal at the villa. Because we were on the go we tended to cook more at night. Cooking for yourselves in Tuscany is a blast because of the quality and uniqueness of the ingredients. September is fresh porcini time in Tuscany.

Have a great trip!

Edited by docsconz (log)

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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thanks everyone, your advice all sounds great. Speaking of cooking for yourself, local markets are plentiful i assume? roadside produce etc?...

Yield to Temptation, It may never come your way again.

 --Lazarus Long

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Lucca is beautiful; another pleasant town is Greve in Chianti, which is a centre of the Slow Food movement. The neighbouring village, Panzano in Chianti, is also good and has (unless it has closed its doors in the last few years) an amazing leatherworker who will custom make shoes, jackets, handbags, etc., all of superb quality, and done very quickly. Both Greve and Panzano have very good local markets. Second the recommendation for Badia e Coltibuono. San Gimigniano is also worth a visit.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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Looking at your map, your villa is basically in Panzano. Another good town to visit is Radda and the Rampini ceramics / dinnerware factory, making beautiful dishes; prices are reasonable, and they ship.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

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thanks everyone, your advice all sounds great.  Speaking of cooking for yourself, local markets are plentiful i assume?  roadside produce etc?...

The only produce I've experienced that's on a par with Italian produce to be found in ordinary stores and supermercati was in Malaysia in the 1970s. Their produce, fruits and vegetables alike, is nothing short of spectacular, and Tuscany is a major agricultural region. Yes, you will find roadside stands, too.

I had many meals of salad made from tomatoes, basil, perhaps some other leafy vegetable, and fresh mozzarella di bufala, plus bread and delicious Chianti wine, all bought inexpensively in a local store or two on Via Pantaneto in Siena, the street where I lived for 3 weeks in 1994. I also made some kick-ass bistecca alla pizzaiola from local tomatoes, carrots, onions, basil, and wine, plus excellent bay leaves and black pepper; and some delicious tomato sauces for pasta.

Also, you have to get gelato in Italy. It really is a bit of Heaven. A cone of ciocolatto e nocciola (chocolate and hazelnut) is my standby, but macedonia di frutta (fruit salad) con gelato is a wonderful indulgence!

You'll find that the vini di tavola you get half a bottle of with a menu' (prix fixe menu) in inexpensive trattorie in the Chianti region are better than wines that would be priced above $35/bottle in any New York restaurant. Eat, drink, look at some of the most beautiful countryside you'll ever see, look at great art, take passeggiate with the locals, speak some Italian, and be merry!! Buon viaggio!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The previously mentioned 'The Food and Wine Lover's Companion to Tuscany' by Carla Capalbo, is a good guide to the area, and is particularly valuble for listing market days in the various small towns in Chianti.

Panzano is a nice little village and up at the top end of the town, next to the church, it has a cafe/bar with an excellent range of wine and good and honest food but at the back it has a small outdoor eating area with tables that have wonderful views of the valleys and hills of Chianti.

Panzano also has a famous butcher, by local agreement (an amazing thing in itself) the 'best' in Chianti.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Any suggestions for Sienna within the walls or just outside. While I stayed in the country once, and loved the hotel, taking an 8 mile drive at the end of each evening was not prudent given my enthusiasm for the the local vini.

I've stayed twice in the walls, didn't like the hotels but loved the location.

beachfan

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Any suggestions for Sienna within the walls or just outside.  While I stayed in the country once, and loved the hotel, taking an 8 mile drive at the end of each evening was not prudent given my enthusiasm for the the local vini.

I've stayed twice in the walls, didn't like the hotels but loved the location.

These are both in Siena.

We love the Palazzo Ravizza - it is only a 3 star, but is gorgeous. Ask for a room with a view of the lovely garden - those rooms also have a wonderful view over the whole countryside. They even have parking.

Certosa di Maggiano is gorgeous, but expensive.

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Hotel Lungarno in Firenze. 4-star, every room with a view of the Arno and the Ponte Vecchia. Beautifully appointed small hotel, and just minutes to walk to all of the museums and shopping. Don't know about price (we went in the off-season), but one of the finest small hotels we have ever stayed in. Owned by the Ferragamo family, but no discount on shoes for guests!

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Good places to eat in Tuscany, La Chiusa and Locanda D'el Amorosa.

In (or just outside) Sienna, there used to be a CIGA hotel. I'd imagine the hotel's still there. It is. It's called the Park Hotel.

Edited by hollywood (log)

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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  • 3 weeks later...

In Florence, we recently stayed at the Excelsior. It was great. It was much more expensive than the places we would typically stay, but my wife found us some sort of a fequent flier deal that secured the rooms at half price.

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Outside of Montevarchi (home of the Prada outlet) is a place called Osteria di Rendola. It's incredible. A classic Tuscan country restaurant. Great for a day trip from Firenze.

fanatic...

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Good places to eat in Tuscany, La Chiusa and Locanda D'el Amorosa...

I would enthusiastically second Locanda dell'Amorosa both as a dining destination and a beautiful place to stay.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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