Via Chiantigiana

The Chiantigiana Road
State Highway 222 (SS222 now SR222) from Florence to Sienna in Tuscany, Italy

Via Chiantigiana State Highway 222 Strada Statale SS 222

Recently renamed SR 222 (Strada Regionale 222)

The Via Chiantigiana is one of the most enjoyable motoring routes in Italy. It runs directly south from Florence to Sienna through the middle of the Chianti Classico wine zone of Tuscany, Italy, one of the most instantly recognisable landscapes in the world. After passing Ugolino Golf Course, the oldest golf club in Italy, the Chiantigiana runs upward and follows the ridges between the Val d'Elsa and the Valdarno, wandering from one farmhouse and villa to another, from time to time passing through villages and small towns. These include Strada in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti. The towns of Impruneta, Lamole, Volpaia and Radda in Chianti are just a short distance along side roads from the via Chiantigiana and can be visited by following the network of secondary roads that link them together. Other short diversions take the visitor through beautiful hillscapes to Montefioralle and Badia a Passignano to the west, and to Gaiole in Chianti and Badia a Coltibuono to the east. The area around Gaiole in Chianti is particularly rich in castles and chapels including the castles of Vertine, Meleto, Barbischio and Brolio. The castles area can be toured by turning off the Via Chiantigiana at Castellina and heading through Gaiole, exploring the back roads and then continuing on to Castelnuovo Berardenga.

Map of the Via Chiantigana

Map of the Chianti Classico territory, bisected
north-south by the Via Chiantigana (SS222)

The territory traversed by the Via Chiantigiana has been one of the most important wine producing regions in Italy for over two centuries. In fact, it was the Habsburg-Lorraine ruling family, most notably Leopold I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who, during the 18 C and 19 C, began cultivating the grapes that would become modern Chianti. Since the 1920s, this territory has been the official area of production for the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico Gallo Nero wine makers consortium. It was under the Lorraine government during the 19 C that Bettino Ricasoli, a landowner and highly accomplished agronomist, began codifying the formula of Chianti wine. Ricasoli was born at Brolio castle and played an important role in the unification of Italy, succeeding Cavour as premier of unified Italy. Many of the dirt tracks that ran between Florence and Sienna were opened up and turned into proper roads after unification and this contributed greatly to the development of local agriculture over the following century, especially wine production. Until that time, the lack of decent roads had been a severe impediment to agricultural growth in the Chianti region, despite reforms instigated by Grand Duke Leopoldo. These reforms had aimed to transfer land-ownership to the local farmers from monasteries. The typical Chianti landscape that we see today is the result of these reforms as they encouraged farmers to extend their fields into the woodland that grew over much of the area and which still covers a large proportion of the territory. The classic picturesque views of the Chianti countryside that we see today may seem timeless, but in reality they have only existed for the last two hundred years. Before that, the region was much more wild and overgrown with only the Via Chiantigiana as a half-way passable all-weather road from Florence to Sienna.

Via Chiantigiana

The Via Chiantigiana as it curves past Villa Montagliari upwards to Panzano.

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