Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A visit to charming Montefioralle

Nestled in the heart of the Chianti countryside, high above the nearby town of Greve is the cutest little walled town called Montefioralle. This ancient fortified city is one of the oldest in the area and still retains its initial walls.

The tiny village, mostly free of cars, drips charm at every twist and turn. It's what you picture when you close your eyes and think of Tuscany.

Crumbling, old, mismatched stone walls in hues ranging from beige to gold to brick red; winding cobbled pathways, with curved gateways, which reveal welcoming wooden doorways with pots and pots of colorful flowers spilling out over the entrance; miniature-sized windows framed in shutters and shrouded in intricate lace curtains which dance slightly in the breeze.

Over the years, the village has belonged to the Ricasoli, Benci, Vespucci and Gherardini families. As you wander the area, keep your eye out for a 'V' and a wasp carved into stone above one of the doors depicting the house where Amerigo Vespucci lived. Don't miss a visit to the gothic church of Santo Stefano, which has been restored and houses many pieces of notable artwork.

Though the village has a restaurant, it is the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy a picnic lunch perched on one of its stone walls, while enjoying the surrounding postcard views of lush vineyards and olive groves.
Or, for those wanting a bit more exercise, there are walking paths and hiking trails which pass by villas, farmhouses and old churches. Greve is about a 20 minute walk and further afield, Panzano can be reached by way of back roads.

And if you are into Sagre (festivals paying homage to food), visit in mid-March for The Sagre delle Fritelle, which is a celebration of fried rice balls.

No matter what time of year you visit, don't forget to bring your camera - you won't want to miss capturing the picturesque houses, village or views of Tuscany that you'll find here.

Robin Locker is a France and Italy travel consultant, freelance travel writer and photographer who hopes to one day realize her dream of living La Dolce Vita in her beloved Italy. She writes about travel for MNUI travel insurance and on her own site, My Melange" She is addicted to social media - you can follow her on Twitter @MyMelange.


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