Less than an hour drive from Florence, surrounded by Chianti Classico vineyards and olive groves sits cosily on a hilltop a charming village of Panzano. With its old stone buildings, windy streets and beautiful views of the fertile valleys along the Pesa and Greve rivers, Panzano is easily one of the prettiest towns in the Chianti area.
Stroll to the old part of town, Panzano Alto, where medieval walls are still visible. In old days, the town was overlooked by a splendid 13th century castle that over time has been incorporated in the newer buildings with its central tower becoming a private home. The Castle of Panzano played an important part in constant battles between the feuding Florentine Republic and Siena. One of the castle’s towers was used as the bell tower for the Church of Santa Maria built in the 18th century to replace the older one. Another local church that is worth a visit is the ancient Pieve di San Leolino with an elegant cloister and sublime triptych dating back to the 14th century.
|Church of Santa Maria|
Every year, in April, Panzano hosts an excellent festival Festa della Stagion Bona with a procession in historical costumes, music and traditional food. In September, during a wine festival Vino al Vino visitors sample produce from local wineries.
|Festa della Stagion Buona|
No trip to Panzano would be complete without sampling the local vino. In Enoteca Baldi (Piazza Bucciarelli, 26) you can taste some of the best Chianti accompanied by fresh bruschetta and homemade pasta. For more substantial meals head to Solociccia (Via Chiantigiana, 5) where juicy simple meat dishes are served. Downstairs, at the Antica Macelleria Cecchini, the local celebrity butcher Dario Cecchini recites Dante's Divine Comedy for his customers. At Montagliari (Via Montagliari, 29) you will enjoy Tuscan cuisine in a restored stone farmhouse with a pretty courtyard and a cosy fireplace inside for colder days. Their papardelle al cinghiale (pasta with a wild boar sauce) washed down with Chianti Classico will make you want to move to Panzano.
Photos via Flickr by: Josh Friedman, Josef Grunig, Renzo Ferrante.