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Panzano for a stroll, wine-tasting and meaty feast

  • Panzano for a stroll, wine-tasting and meaty feast

    Panzano, just east of San Donato, is the place to indulge in a passion for Tuscan meat, including Florentine T-bone steak. This Tuscan bastion is the meaty preserve of Dario Cecchini, a cleverly eccentric celebrity butcher with a mini empire in these parts. No one can wield a bloody meat cleaver better, still less while reciting Dante. Part butcher, part showman, Dario keeps his audience entertained as well as over-fed.

    Work up an appetite by strolling along the walls and admiring the Chianti countryside. Restaurants lining the walls offer views of the Chianti hills and vineyards. Before lunch, call into L’Accademia del Buon Gusto for a wine-tasting with one of Tuscany’s most colourful characters. Stefano Salvadori is a gracious, old-school host who offers free tastings of Tuscan wines, olive oils and vinegars, all the while waxing lyrical about Chianti wines. Expect to leave enlightened, amused and possibly laden down with wine.

    The café-lined main square is the place for lapping up the small-town atmosphere and contemplating lunch. With several restaurants in town, all clustered round his famous butcher’s, Cecchini is still doing a brisk trade. The restaurants are fairly priced so there’s no sense of being caught in a tourist trap. The winning format appeals to most visitors, as does the conviviality and showbiz side. T-bone steak predominates, at least in L’Officina della Bistecca. For any beef-loving Tuscan, bistecca alla fiorentina – a huge, tender T-bone steak, grilled over an open fire and seasoned with nothing more than crushed peppercorns, salt, and a hint of garlic and olive oil, served very rare – is the ultimate steak. Bear in mind that all is not bleak for vegetarians: there are strong meat-free menus for those of a more squeamish disposition. Basic wine is included in the price but you can also bring your own.

    After lunch, work off the calories by walking upto the Pieve di San Leonino, Panzano’s loveliest church, set on a hilltop just outside Panzano. Inside the Romanesque pieve are precious artworks, including della Robbia terracotta tabernacles and a medieval triptych of the Virgin and Child.

    L’Officina della Bistecca is reviewed in our San Donato Eating & Drinking section below.
    L’Accademia del Buon Gusto, Piazza Riscasoli 7, 50022 Panzano in Chianti
    T: 055 856 0159 & http://www.accademiadelbuongusto.com
    See our Panzano restaurant listings for full recommendations.

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