Tuscany’s Castle Winery Leaves a Dashing Legacy

Castello Di Verrazzano in Chianti
Castello Di Verrazzano in Chianti on a lovely mellow day

Chianti, an area of Tuscany located between Florence and Siena, is beautifully grooved with vineyards over wide rolling hills. Castles often decorate the tops with their surrounding estate of vineyards full of grapes grown plump and aromatic under the warm Tuscan sun. Castello Di Verrazzano, overlooking the town of Greve in Chianti, is one of them.

Gardens of Splendor
Gardens of Splendor
Every castle has a moat, of sorts….well, this is actually a large pool
Plump juicy Verrazzano grapes
Plump juicy Verrazzano grapes

The “vineyards situated in Verrazzano,” are mentioned in a manuscript dating back to 1170, preserved in the Abbey of Passignano. Olive groves are recorded to have been growing on the estate simultaneously.

Castello Di Verrazzano vineyards
Castello Di Verrazzano vineyards

Today, the Renaissance villa is built around the tenth century tower. Originally, the castle was an Etruscan, then a Roman settlement until the Verrazzano family acquired it in the seventh century.

Captain Verrazzano, Explorer of the New World

Giovanni da Verrazzano, born in the castle in 1485, was a Florentine navigator who explored the bay of New York and most of the East Coast of North America in the early 1500’s. Not one to keep a low profile, while seeking entrance to the Pacific Ocean near South America on his third and final voyage, he mistakenly landed on an island with cannibalistic natives. End of story….almost. New York immortalized him by naming their double-decker suspension bridge the Verrazzano-Narrows in 1964.

The Verrazzano Estate’s boundaries have not changed in over one thousand years.

Today the Cappellini family runs the estate after acquiring it in 1958. At the time it was in a neglected state and needed repairs. The villa was restored and the surrounding 220 acres of land reorganized, nourished and replanted in vines which are replaced every twelve years. A system of thorough organic fertilization as well as the practice of agronomic techniques has contributed over time to superior wines. The harvest is done exclusively by hand through a careful selection of grapes.

Vineyard stretch to the horizon
Vineyards surround the castle

Most good stories have a great ending, and this is no exception. In my next post you are invited to come along with me on a wine tour of Castello Da Verrazzano. I promise a dungeon with cells, but no dragons! Stay tuned…..coming this Wednesday!

Sky High Orvieto


Medieval Hilltown of Orvieto
Medieval Hilltown of Orvieto

Orvieto is a pleasure garden for those with an eye for architectural beauty. From the Gothic facade of the Cathedral to the intoxicating views from the ancient walls surrounding the hilltop town, a linger here is good for the soul.

Orvietto Cathedral - 14th century Roman Catholic Basilica

Orvieto Cathedral – 14th century Roman Catholic Basilica

Sunlight illuminates the three-gabled golden facade of the Orvieto Cathedral, adding dimension to the large bas-reliefs and statues with the symbols (Lion, Angel, Ox, Eagle) of the four Evangelists stationed across the front. Built around 1325 by Tuscan architect Lorenzo Maitani, it is considered one to the great masterpieces of the middle ages.

Florentine architect Arnolfo di Cambio designed this cathedral, which was begun in 1290.  It took nearly three centuries to finish the construction. Orvieto’s pride and joy is beautifully well-preserved.

Coronation of the Virgin mosaic at the top peak
Coronation of the Virgin mosaic at the top peak

Inside the Cathedral

There is an old medieval wall that surrounds Orvieto. Located on a flat butte which is made up of volcanic tuffa stone, the town has been in existence since the Etruscans. In fact, Orvieto has a maze of underground rooms and tunnels that the ancient Etruscans carved out of the tufa rock. Tours are available through Select Italy and well worth the time.

Cobbled streets winding up and down between tall brick buildings and occasional palatial villas add an appeal all its own. Bargains were to be found at a busy clothing and produce market held on the piazza.


Nooks and Crannies in Orvieto
Nooks and Crannies hung with laundry

Brick walls were refreshingly cool to touch in the heat of the afternoon. Potted plants like this Camila are commonly spotted around the town. It was very quiet away from the piazza.

Little Palms and Flag Bearing Buildings
 Palms, Wrought Iron Gates, Old brick Walls, and Flag Bearing Buildings

Medieval city walls of Orvieto

The views surrounding Orvieto are some of the most picturesque I have ever seen. I followed the old medieval wall all around the town and taken photos from every side.

Orvieto Countryside
Orvieto Countryside-A bit of a hazy day

Capri, Cefalu, Orvietto, Florence, Genoa, Bolsena, Lecci, Napoli 055Capri, Cefalu, Orvietto, Florence, Genoa, Bolsena, Lecci, Napoli 050Capri, Cefalu, Orvietto, Florence, Genoa, Bolsena, Lecci, Napoli 056

This pathway led outside the walls and down through some of the countryside. Lush variegated greenery rose up around me as I walked through the welcomed shade. A soft breeze swayed the trees gently bringing with it a warm earthy fragrance.

Pathway Outside the Walls
Pathway Outside the Walls
Back in the town of Orvieto, I found this doorway and fell in love with it.
Back inside the town of Orvieto, I found this doorway and fell in love with it. I just needed a little cat curled up by that flower pot and a yellow lab waiting  inside the door for his daily walk!

Orvieto can’t be beat for a lovely walk through medieval architecture, artisan shops and family-run restaurants. To see the sites of Orvieto in a day, Select Italy offers a full day tour of the Cathedral, the underground Orvieto, a historical stroll through the town and a visit to a local winery.