Right in the heart of Chianti, five steep miles atop the highest peak, lies Volpaia, touted as one of the most romantic villages in the heart of Tuscany. Dating back to the 11th century, this medieval borgo (village) is one of the best preserved walled villages in Italy.
As was customary in the middle ages, people were named for their trade or place of origin. In the mid-1400’s, Lorenzo della Volpaia, a mathematician, architect and skilled clockmaker, adopted the town’s name, literally meaning Lorenzo from Volpaia (Lair of the Foxes). Della Volpaia was even said to have consulted with Leonardo da Vinci (Leonardo from Vinci) on technical projects. One of Volpaia’s most exclaimed clock works is the clock in Palazzo Vecchio in centro Florence.
Today, Volpaia is owned by the Stianti Mascheroni family (Father Rafaello Stianti gifted the village and winery to his daughter Gionvanella as a wedding present in 1996). Castello di Volpaia is renowned for its wonderful wines, traditional olive oils and aromatic vinegar.
I arrived at Castello di Volpaia on the first day of the Spring opening of the wine shop. Volpaia was shrouded in clouds that day and the village seemed eerily deserted. Only 42 people actually live in the walled village, and the throngs of visitors had not yet arrived. I had the whole village to myself to explore.
Castello di Volpaia offers wine tastings for only 5 euros; cellar tours can be arranged in advance. Only a few bottles were available that day for tasting and the wine shop was very cold so the red wines did not open up fully.
I found the Bianco di Volpaia to be very refreshing — a delicate, flowery blend of Trebbiano Toscana, Malvasia del Chianti Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Unfortunately it was too cold in the tasting room to totally appreciate the Chianti Classico or the Chianti Classico Riserva, but I raised a glass to Lorenzo anyway!
For a romantic getaway and a charming medieval village to yourself, Volpaia tops the list. www.volpaia.com