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10 Chianti Classics

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Chianti we’ve picked some of our favourite sights and activities in the world-famous wine region that we call home. Our trail is a real mix, to suit all tastes, and it’s free to use – just download and go. Whether you try just one of our recommendations or tick off all 10, you’ll be sure to enjoy memory-making experiences among these ancient vines.

A highlight of the trail is the chance to follow in the tyre tracks of the professional cyclists competing in the 2016 Giro d’Italia. Italy’s premier cycling race will include a special time trial through the Chianti vineyards on 15 May.

There’s also the chance to taste some of the best wines produced in the region and tour a world-class collection of art at Castello di Ama. Here, visitors can combine tastings of renowned vintages, including the Chianti Classico Vigneto La Casuccia, with a tour of works by artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor.

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10 Chianti Classics

Wine and art at Castello di Ama

Serious wine buffs shouldn’t miss a trip to one of Chianti’s premier wine-producing estates, Castello di Ama. You could spend a whole afternoon here visiting the vineyards and cellars and sipping wines – the Chianti Classico Vigneto La Casuccia and Vigneto Bellavista are world-renowned.

But don’t miss the extraordinary contemporary art collection that’s also on display, with works by such luminaries as Louise Bourgeois and Anish Kapoor.
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Art and music at the Chianti Sculpture Park

A woodland gallery of sculptures and installations created by artists from around the world – we’re not sure which we like best, the art or the natural setting.

The exhibits are weird, wonderful and thought-provoking – among our favourites is The Labyrinth, a maze made from aquamarine glass bricks by UK artist Jeff Saward. This is also the location of La Fornace Art Gallery, a collection of more than 200 contemporary works by Asian, African, South American and European artists, housed in a former pottery. And if you’re around on a Tuesday in July or August, catch one of the open-air concerts in the marble and granite amphitheatre.

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Walk, run, ride or cycle on the Dievole Natural Path

Byways once tramped by share-croppers, who toiled in the Chianti vineyards, have been given a new lease of life as a “Natural Path”. Step back in time along more than 27km of these ancient routes on the Dievole Estate, restored to provide a hilly playground among the vines and olive groves for walkers, runners, cyclists and horse-riders. The paths are clearly marked, with beautiful landmarks such as an 18th-century stone aqueduct highlighted. Along the way, there are some glorious views, which will reward your efforts and have you reaching for your camera.
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A walk in the Chianti Classico heartland

Put your best foot forward in the Chianti Classico heartland. This circular trail from Gaiole wanders through a landscape of vines, wild fruits and fig and cypress trees. It also passes by a church and a tower house both dating from the 10th century, as well as the castle at Meleto, fought for in the wars between Siena and Florence (groups can pre-arrange a guided tour). The medieval hamlet of Barbischio is also on the route, which winds its way through chestnut woods and follows a stream before returning to Gaiole. It’s an easy 12km trek, which should take about 3 hours and 15 minutes.

For full details, go to www.to-tuscany.com/self-guide-walk-gaiole-meleto/
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Cycle the Giro d’Italia Gallo Nero route

Follow in the tyre tracks of the Giro d’Italia, the nation’s top cycling race. To mark this year’s 300th anniversary, a special 40km time trial through the Gallo Nero vineyards has been added, from Radda to Greve. If you’re in the area on Sunday 15 May, join the crowds to watch the professional pedal pushers grind through the gears – the best viewpoint is outside Hotel Salivolpe, about 1km from central Castellina. But hardcore cycling fans will no doubt want to try the route themselves, check out our dedicated blog with maps.

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Star-gazing at Osservatorio Chianti

Reach for the stars at Chianti’s observatory. From June to August, the research centre hosts special star-gazing nights, with English-speaking astronomers on hand to help you explore the constellations through their telescopes. Children are welcome, too.
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Vinotherapia at Castellare de’ Noveschi

It seems wine is good for the body as well as the soul. At Castellare de’ Noveschi in San Sano, immerse your weary body in a fragrant bath of the stuff (we’re getting aromas of roses and violets with a hint of strawberry). They say “vinotherapia” revives the skin and rolls back the ageing process. One thing’s for sure, it’s an indulgent way to pass a few hours, delivering a sense of bliss without fear of a hangover.
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Uncover Etruscan tombs

Dig deep into Chianti’s past at Castellina, where you can unearth evidence of the mighty Etruscans who settled here. At Montecalvario, close to the centre, you’ll discover a tomb dating from the 6th century BC. Ten minutes’ drive south of Castellina, in the woods just outside Fonterutoli, there are more signs of Etruscan life at the Necropoli del Poggino, which has five tombs to explore. Remnants of an Etruscan chariot, a lion’s head in sandstone and a pair of Attic black-figure amphorae are among the local artefacts on display at Chianti’s archaeological museum in Castellina’s fort.
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Fishing at Lake Quornia

Fall hook, line and sinker for a spot of fishing at Lake Quornia. This peaceful little lake can be found amid the vineyards between Castellina and Monteriggioni. Just follow the signs to Ristorante Vallechiara, where the owners hire all the equipment you’ll need to reel in the carp, sturgeon or trout that inhabit these waters. (At weekends, a man supplies kit on the lakeside.) Visit vallechiara.eu for further information.
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Ice cream at Gelateria Castellina

Try some of the best ices and sorbets in the area at Gelateria Castellina – and see how they’re made, too. We love this ice-cream parlour, where owners Chiara and Simone pride themselves on using top-quality ingredients and paying careful attention to detail. Now they’ve opened in these new, larger premises, giving them even more room to show off how they make their delicious flavours, including one made with Vin Santo dessert wine. Pre-book a demonstration in the kitchen to spend a fascinating hour watching how these wonderful treats are made – and taste some of the more unusual concoctions.
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