Ah, beautiful Chianti!
I had never been to the Chianti region so Umberto and Francesca decided to spend a Saturday showing me around a bit. There’s nothing better than spending a day with good friends, seeing the country, and eating good food.
We first visited Greve (pronounced gray-vay) in Chianti, which has a fabulous Saturday market intended for the local residents rather than tourists. I enjoy these more because I get to see how the markets really work, the prices are better, and they are simply more entertaining.
These markets usually include everything from local produce and meat to clothing to personal care items. This particular market included cooking tools, ceramics, baskets, kitchen and bathroom linens, flowers, a few pastries, meat, fruit, vegetables, and bread. If you need it you can probably find it here.
These markets can be entertaining because Italians take their local markets very seriously. There is a lot of bargaining, some arguing over pricing or among each other about who saw what first, and much visiting with vendors and friends. The atmosphere is usually jovial and energetic, and this market was no exception. They are normally very busy, and Italians line up for nothing. So if you ever intend to visit one these markets, be assertive and sharpen your elbows!
What did I buy? I found kitchen towels and table linens at incredibly good prices. There is also a very good dried cherry that seems to be offered only at these markets. I buy a couple hundred grams whenever I find them.
The other city we visited is a pretty little hill town by the name of Panzano in Chianti. We stopped here because I had seen the church tower over the trees and wondered about it.
Panzano has that old world charm we see in photos of Italy. It is not a town that sees many tourists which means it is not cluttered with tacky souvenir stands. You see Panzano as it is, and it is beautiful!
We ended the visit with lunch at a place called Antica Macelleria Cecchini, owned by butcher and chef Dario Cecchini. He seems to be rather well known in the area. No wonder, the food was great, the price was terrific, and the entire experience was, well, fun.
There were two menu options. That day the menu offered the following: For 10 euro you received a half pound burger Tuscan style, roasted potatoes, vegetables, bread, and water. Dario calls it playing “with the concept of high quality fast food”. For 20 euro you were given some of Dario’s “butcher shop specialties”. That day this included raw vegetables and olive oil, Chianti sushi (beef, not fish), Chianti tuna (pork actually), roasted pork, meatloaf “Dario style”, bread, and water. Of course you want to sample the fabulous vino, so that is a little extra.
We ordered the second option, and that was enough for the three of us. With the Chianti wine this was probably the best lunch I’ve had!
If you visit the Chianti area I highly recommend a visit to Panzano, and to Antica Macelleria Cecchini. You will not soon forget the experience!