“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”
~ W.C. Fields
A trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a classic stop to visit a winery and have a long, slow meal in the Tuscan countryside. All made that much better by having our dog join us.
With our new city love Florence, Italy fading behind us, *sniff, we headed for our lunch date and tour of a beautiful winery in Tuscany. We left a bit early so that we could take our time driving through the country to get to the Grieve area of Chianti by 12pm. It’s under a one hour drive but we were glad we took the extra time as leaving Florence took some navigation skills to get onto the ring road and there were a couple wrong turns before we were solidly on our way. When you leave enough time, these ‘turns’ become mini adventures and without the stress of time you can enjoy the additional ramble through a newly found street.
The concierge’s suggestion to head to Greti along the A222 gets a big thumb’s up. This is what a road trip with your dog in Italy is all about. It’s a very scenic and pretty drive, through small villages and over hills with expansive views of vineyard after vineyard. Tuscany at it’s finest.
In just under an hour we were on the dirt road that takes you up to Castello di Verrazzano (The Castle of Verrazzano) to start our tour and sample their libations.We drove in as they were harvesting the grapes along the road and we felt like a travel brochure was coming to life through our car windows. What an amazing estate… picturesque in every way, from buildings to landscape to the Tuscan sun shining above it.
The castle is in the heart of the Chianti Classico region and is steeped in history. It was originally a Roman settlement, and is mentioned in a year 1150 manuscript for it’s 52 hectares of magnificent vineyards.
The Verrazzano family took over the property in the 7th century. Their family’s claim to fame is Giovanni da Verrazzano, an explorer who was born here in 1485 and later sailed off to discover the bay of New York along with other parts of the East Coast of the US.
It changed hands a few times and “in 1958 the Cappellini family took over the Castle on the road of decadence and brought it back it to its former glory by restoring the villa and rebuilding the agricultural tissue and the vineyards, according to an ancient model, respecting the historical and architectonic features of the place. Cavalier Cappellini understood since the beginning the importance of the history and the beauty of the Chianti area for a better promotion of farming productions. He laid the foundations for that awareness that inspired the institution of the Agritourism practice.”.
Tikka says “Enough history, on with the tour!” We headed out with our small group to explore the expansive gardens and ponds, buildings, ancient cellars and vineyards of the estate.
They welcomed Tikka into the tour and only asked that we pick her up when we were down in the cellars. She was as keen to explore the property as much as we were as I’m sure it was full of great smells, especially the salami curing along the rafters.
The guide was friendly and was full of interesting information on the the wine making process, taking us through each step, showing us the grapes and the amazing wooden barrels that make a Chianti wine so special. Verrazzano also produces olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and other products and it was neat to see everything in various stages of completion.
The tour ended at a huge tasting room for a beautiful wine pairing lunch. Plates came out with local salamis and ham, pasta, sausages, pork loin and salad, all balanced with their amazing range of Verrazzano wines. Although full, we squeezed in room for a taste of pecorino cheese drizzled with their incredible “Balsamico Verrazzano”. This is an aged balsamic vinegar that is as sweet as syrup that could be used as a topping for ice cream. No joke.
Tikka appreciated the afternoon nap next to us while we had lunch, and we appreciated that they accommodated her any way they could. Well, to a point. I’m sure she would have loved to hang out in the kitchen drooling while the pork loin was sizzling on the grill.
After stuffing ourselves stupid we had a little walk by the vineyard and took some pics around the property before heading off to our hotel in the Siena region of Tuscany, our next stop for a few days.
The afternoon was divine and all dog friendly – Castello di Verrazzano is a perfect mid way stop if you are going from Florence to Siena with your dog along for the ride.
Lots of different wineries open their doors to dogs, so don’t hesitate to bring your furry friend for a fun day out at a vineyard, just call ahead if you want to double check if they are allowed. Here is another great post from Bosco Abroad and their visit to a winery in the Piemonte area.
*This is part of a series of travelling around Italy with your dog. Check out our stay in Florence!