Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Markets and Festivals in Chianti

Some of the best local festivals and markets...

Greve's attractive triangular, porticoed square provides the perfect setting for a variety of markets and festivals during the year

Apart from three weekend markets selling fruit and veg, cheese, barbecued meats etc in Greve in Chianti and Castellina in Chianti on Saturday mornings and Panzano on Sunday mornings, there
are several antique/flea/craft and specialist markets as well as a selection of festivals on offer throughout the year in the Chianti area.

The Aprilante of Panzano in Chianti,  
the first Sunday of the month from March to November 
local artisans, artists, fleamarket sellers, lively atmosphere on a Sunday
Unlike Greve, Panzano cannot boast a beautiful square so its outdoor events take place along the road between the fish pond and the church on the hill

Festa della Stagione Bona
Panzano in Chianti April 25
medieval procession, reenactment of 'historical' events, craft and food market 

Mercato delle Cose del Passato/Market of Old Things
Greve in Chianti 
Easter Monday
busy 'antiques'/flea market, worthwhile equally for the variety of crafts and local artists in the side-streets and other locations

Il Pagliaio
Greve in Chianti 
Every 4th Sunday morning.
Organic produce with local and other producers. Very good goat's cheese stall. 

 Stelle e Mercanti
June, July and August, evening market with food, crafts and music, every 3rd Thursday from 18 to 23

Slowfood Market Greve  
Greve in Chianti, mid-May but check sites
- highlights specialist produce from towns all over Italy

Greve Flower Market
Greve in Chianti early May
the piazza is filled with flowering plants, herbs and a festive atmosphere

Pentecost Market 
Castellina in Chianti
At the end of May/early June, an attractive three-day market with music in the streets, crafts, wine and local produce.

Calici di Stelle
Castellina  in Chianti August 10th

Wine and gastronomic festival with local craftspeople and their wares from 10am till late

Castellina's markets and festivals spread through the town from square to main street but also make use of the striking medieval covered walkway

Radda 1527 Renaissance Festiva
Radda in Chianti  mid-July
Dinner in the piazza, processions and stalls, a renaissance re-enactment, dinner (with tickets) in the main square
Expo del Chianti Classico
Greve in Chianti early September
Greve's famous wine festival which brings together almost all the wines of the Chianti Classico area 

Vino al Vino 
Panzano in Chianti mid September
a small but enjoyable festival organized by the wine producers around Panzano, many of whom also make organic wines
Rural Festival
Gaiole in Chianti mid September
agricultural fair focussing on biodiversity; ancient breeds and varieties of farm animals and horticulture

This list is far from exhaustive and includes only locations in the neighbourhood of Le Ripe. Unfortunately it is difficult to be more specific about the dates: it is best to check online nearer to the event...


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Night Visitor at Le Ripe

Giant Peacock Moth

Great peacock moth, giant emperor moth, Viennese emperor, the Saturnia pyri, native to Europe: this Saturniid moth is the largest European moth. Its wingspan can reach 20cm.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Walking around Villa Vignamaggio

Past, present and future revealed in a Chianti valley
- part one -

Anyone who has seen the 1993 film version of Much Ado about Nothing by Kenneth Branagh, may recall the opening scenes where the male protagonists gallop home across a verdant valley towards the villa in Messina where the play's action takes place. The villa featured splendidly in the film is not in Sicily but in the Comune of Greve in Chianti, a 15 minute drive from Le Ripe: Villa Vignamaggio.

Although the Vignamaggio website includes a cursory (and not entirely accurate) summary of the Villa's interesting history, it excludes its context: the broad, sun-filled valley it dominates. 

A walk along the lanes and paths of the Piano di Montagliari as the valley is called, reveals much about life in this corner of Chianti as it once was, its present balancing act between decay and renewal and the promise of the latter for the foreseeable future as represented by Villa Vignamaggio itself.

On the way up to Panzano from Greve on the 222, a few hundred metres after Montagliari, you take the turn-off to Casaloste and Gogoli and follow an unsealed road past a series of beautiful old stone houses, notably Salvalta, a rare, intact testament to the medieval origins of the oldest of these buildings.

San Niccolò a Montagliari
After a gentle climb you reach the deconsecrated church of San Niccolò a Montagliari, where until relatively recently on Good Friday evening locals carrying torches made a pilgrimage following the stations of the cross. These mementoes of a religious past are gone or disappearing and the church is today the annexe of a private home and succumbing to ivy.
San Niccolò a Montagliari
the old well at San Niccolò, overgrown
an intact station of the cross near the former Piano di Montagliari school
Some distance below the church near a farmhouse a narrow grassy path, once a cobbled Roman road, winds down the hill into the valley towards Vignamaggio. The views are  beautiful and hint at what the future holds for this area.

Beneath this picturesque grass lane lies a Roman road
new vineyards and new dam/pond (bottom centre, behind tree)
raspberry and currant bushes planted on a grand scale at Vignamaggio
At the valley bottom stands a large cluster of buildings, seemingly a borgo or hamlet. This used to be the local primary school of the Piano where, until the late 1970s, all the children of the area were educated. It is still surrounded by bountiful apple trees and broad green swathes. Nearby, beside the Greve river, the community would meet to pic-nic and bathe in summer.
former Scuola del Piano frequented by generations of local children
Beyond the school buildings (today converted into private residences) a lane leads to an old mill, the Molino di Buccio, now inevitably also a home. Nevertheless the buildings retain many features of the old mill including the handsome terraced spillway where water once flowed to power the mill.

spillway above the mill-race
walls curving along the Greve river to where the mill once churned
Back on the valley road winding through olive groves and woods beneath the gaze of Villa Vignamaggio, you start to understand what is changing in this valley. Fortunately the change appears to be for the better: contrasting with a sense of decay and loss of historical identity from now on there is an impression of energy and considered innovation coupled with respect for the environment.

heaps of mulch and compost along the valley floor point to good farming practice
cinta senesi pigs in a spacious, clean home with shade trees: this pen is just for feeding

Carefully cleared woods once overwhelmed by brambles. The farm manager has decreed that all trees larger than saplings must be preserved. If a worker cuts down an old tree, he will be fired. Strict conservation is being enforced.

recently planted fruit trees interspersed through an ancient vineyard

the return of the wheatfield to Chianti
simple wooden gates and fencing grace the property
giaggioli or flags on the road to Lamole in spring

Vignamaggio seen from San Niccolò

...to be continued.