After traveling south from Greve on the SR222, you’ll soon come to the frazione (village) of Panzano. On our second trip to Tuscany, we rented a lovely farmhouse here. We loved being able to walk into the village for meals and activities. At night, we enjoyed listening to the flock of sheep next door discuss favorite pecorino and wool production methods.
Greve and Castellina are easily accessible, as are the tiny villages of Lamole, La Piazza, Lucarelli, and Volpaia. (You can also get to Montefioralle from Panzano by heading up through the old town. It’s actually an easier drive than if you went back through Greve, especially if you’re not good at downshifting a manual transmission.)
Panzano is rather famous among global ‘foodies’ for two attractions:
- The Vino al Vino Wine Festival – It’s held in the village square every year on the third weekend of September (and the Thursday and Friday just before). For about €12, you buy a wineglass and sample the wines, chat with the winemakers, and listen to some great jazz! Dates and times for 2016 are Thursday, September 15 (4:30 – 8:30 pm), Friday, September 16 (12:00 – 7:00 pm), Saturday, September 17 (11:00 am – 7:00 pm), and Sunday, September 18 (11:00 am – 7:30 pm).
- Antica Macelleria Cecchini – Known as “The Uffizi of Meat”, this may be the most famous butcher shop in Europe. The proprietor, Dario Cechhini, is internationally known and appreciated for his mission of protecting and promoting the traditional local butcher from the rise of giant supermarkets, big box stores, etc.
Dario believes that butchery is an ancient art involving respect for the animal, and that all cuts of meat are of equal value when prepared in the appropriate manner. The flagship cut of meat, served in many of the local restaurants, is bistecca alla Fiorentina. It’s a Tuscan porterhouse made from the region’s Chianina breed of cattle, prized for their tenderness and flavor.
The shop is on a side street, just across from the town square. It’s in a rather unpretentious old building, and the store definitely has an old-time butcher shop feel. Odds are, Dario will be there. Drop by, talk, sample, and eat. (And buy!) Open every day, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Other local activities:
- Market Day – Virtually every decent size town has a market day: Booths, tents, stands, and trucks. Fresh produce, meats & cheeses. Clothing, Shoes. Flowers. Housewares. You name it. It’s where the locals have shopped for hundreds of years. Every Sunday morning.
Note: On the first Sunday of each month there is also an arts, crafts and antiques (flea) market.
- Tastings at Fontodi – One of our all time favorite wine and olive oil producers, Fontodi lies south of town in the “Conca d’Oro” (the golden shell). The name comes from the fact that the land is amphitheatre-shaped and was originally a grain growing area that appeared as a golden basin of ripening wheat. Prices are high, but worth every penny. Tours and tastings are informal – contact them directly.
- Accademia del Buon Gusto – We stumbled on it when walking up the hill to the church. I’m not sure what to call this store… classroom… umm…place. Here’s a TripAdvisor review:
Stefano will lead you through a very complete Chianti wine tasting experience mixed with classical music, art and philosophy. He speaks Italian, English and many other languages. Don´t be shy, introduce yourself, and give something in exchange. Stefano does not charge for the wine tasting, but he lives for his little winery, so it´s nice to buy at least a bottle of his best wine.
Where to eat:
- Il Vescovino and Oltre Il Guardino – A few blocks from each other, we’ve eaten at both restaurants many times. They have similarly beautiful outdoor seating areas and similarly good Tuscan cuisine and wine. Hungry? Split the bistecca alla fiorentina (florentine beefsteak) from local butcher Dario Cecchini. Both restaurants are open every day in season for lunch and dinner.
- Osteria le Panzanelle – Just down the road in tiny Lucarelli (which is technically part of Radda, not Panzano), this great family-style restaurant is filled with locals. Kids love it. Adults love it. My guess is that the local dogs and cats love it, too.
Only open since 2002, the tourists have yet to fully descend on the place. Here is how the two young owners, Nada and Silvia, describe their cuisine:
For starters, in addition to the classical crostini (canapes) and affettati misti (cured cold meats), you can find in rotation several seasonal proposals. As first courses, other than the always available seasonal soup, there is a good choice of homemade pasta (noodles), amongst which a special mention goes to ravioli and gnudi. As a second course, all year round you can of course have grilled meat: beef steak, t-bone steak and lamb chops, but, in rotation, you can also find stews like: peposo, wild boar, or pork chop and also roasted meats and offals, such as tripe. Puddings always includes almond biscotti with dessert wine (vin santo), cream pudding (panna cotta) and chocolate cake, but in rotation you can find other seasonal desserts.
Closed Monday. Email: email@example.com | Tel: +39 0577 733511
Masthead photo: Panzano Landscape (Bob)