“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Journal: Italy 2013 – Greve and Panzano

We left the house on Sunday around 9:30 for our trip to Greve and Panzano, about an hour and a half away, in the Chianti region. This would be our first visit to that region, home of the famous Chianti Classico wines, one of Arnold’s favorites. 

Throughout our trip, we have had many accidental discoveries while en route to places we were scheduled to visit and today would be no exception. The road to Panzano was a small, windy one (like most roads in Central Italy). On the way, near Cavriglia, we saw a sign for a free wine and olive oil tasting at Poggi del Chianti. We had seen several similar signs that day and didn’t stop. I don’t know why we stopped for this one, but I’m glad we did. We went up a little dirt road, following the signs, until we got to a small stone building. It didn’t look very promising, as it didn’t appear to be open. Of course, it was only about 10:30 in the morning and who in their right mind wants to sample wine and olive oil that early?

Poggi Del Chianti Is Also A B&B

We parked the car in front of a charming farmhouse amid a cluster of buildings and there was a guy about my age or maybe a little older inside the building. I asked if he was open and he responded in Italian. The only word I thought I understood was “later” or at least that’s what I inferred from his demeanor and gestures. So I said and pantomimed “Can we look around?” because I had peeked into the building and seen a lovely tasting room. He gestured to come in and Ruth and I did. Arnold and Jeanie were still outside admiring the beautiful views.

  View From Poggi Del Chianti

As we looked around and took some pictures, the man appeared with two wine glasses and a plate of bread drizzled with olive oil and motioned to us to help ourselves to the bottles of wine on the table. We tried to tell him there were four of us, but he kept looking around for the other two. Finally Arn and Jeanie came in and he got them glasses.

Arn, Ruth, Jeanie And The Owner Of Il Poggi  Ruth, The Owner's Son, Arn And Jeanie In The Store At Poggi Del Chianti

We tasted the wine: a young Chianti, an older Chianti, a dessert wine, and a Grappa (which none of us were brave enough to try, having had Grappa before and finding it like grain alcohol). There was also bread with olive oil. We all found something to like. Everyone loved the olive oil, which was very light and flavorful. Everyone also loved the dessert wine, which, for me, is odd because I don’t usually like dessert wines. This one, though, was not as sweet as others I’ve tried. 

As we drank, we wandered around his establishment, looking at the barrels and such, as he tried to explain the process to us. He spoke no English, but still managed to convey information about the way they made the wines and olive oil and his pride certainly shone through. 

Wine Barrels At Il Poggi  Tasting Room At Il Poggi

We had all decided to purchase olive oil and wine but, the man indicated he could not do the transaction for us. His son would be there soon to help us, but the day was getting late and we had a lot of ground to cover that day. Just as we were about to leave, miracle of miracles! His son arrived. We bought olive oil and dessert wine to send home and a bottle of young Chianti to drink at the villa. Great find, totally by accident!

Then on to Panzano, home of the world famous butcher, Dario Cecchini. The butcher shop has been in his family for over 250 years. Can you imagine?

Dario has expanded the family butcher shop to a small empire. He had made a name for himself selling huge T-bone steaks. In 2006, his dream grew into a restaurant, Solociccia, meaning “only meat,” was opened to use the rest of cuts from the whole sides of beef he purchased, which in the past was what the butcher’s family ate. Dario filled the shop with a myriad of clever creations, many already cooked, to use the rest of the meat. The restaurant has large tables and you are seated together and served family-style. They say it’s almost as good as being invited to Dario’s home to eat. 

Outside Of Dario The Butcher's Shop In PanzanoBut that wasn’t enough, people wanted to eat the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina when they came to Panzano, and none of the local restaurants were serving it. So, in 2009, the Officina della Bistecca was born. Dario’s original idea was for it to be a school to understand the various cuts of the steak and teach people there is more than just a T-bone. Three different cuts that Dario sells, the Costata, the Fiorentina, and the Panzanese, are cooked right in front of you on a huge open grill in the middle of the restaurant.

Now Dario was buying even more beef and needed another way to use the non-steak cuts. He was already selling lots of ragu and meatloaf using ground meat. The restaurants were serving dinners only. He took the open space outside the Officina and turned it into a lunch spot. Patrons could order a tasting of the cooked products which are sold in the macelleria (butcher shop) or, as a joke, he created the McDario, a half-pound burger, served without a bun, Italian style, but with a side of roasted potatoes as well as onions and tomatoes.

Our goal in Panzano was to have lunch at Dario’s restaurant. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, there were about a hundred people waiting outside for the restaurant to open. Guess that’s another thing we will have to do when we return. Good thing I’m making a list – it’s getting really long!

Since we couldn’t have lunch with Dario, we shopped in the local weekly market. It was like other markets we have visited, with booths selling clothing, purses, jewelry, etc. Then we went in search of a place to have lunch and found Enoteca Baldi where we had some good pasta and, as always, wine!

We headed to Greve, but really only had time to drive through it so I guess that will wait until next trip too! That’s okay. We’ve decided we would rather thoroughly enjoy what we visit rather than racing from city to city. 

Ciao!

Logo And Info For Poggi Del Chianti