And so to our final walking day: this time a ridge walk in the hills about one hour’s drive to the northwest of San Gimignano. Again it was a hot morning, and breakfast had only been picked over – except for the coffee and fruit juice! But we were away in good time and had arrived in Panzano in Chianti by around 10.00am.
We passed the church and picked up a tarmac road out of the village. The views over the valley were superb, and stayed with us for the first half of the walk.
Soon we left the road and headed along the ridge on a dusty track, pausing for the occasional wildlife stop.
There were also some beautiful villas and farmhouses to be seen – some with the most incredible views. It’s hard to imagine something like this once being tumbledown and unloved.
After a while, we turned right to take a track up and over the ridge. A new set of views opened up in front of us, including the hilltop hamlet of Montefioralle – our objective for lunch.
About half an hour later, having followed a dusty track down through groves of olive and apricot, we climbed the short hill up into Montefioralle. Off a quaint, stone-flagged street we found the Taverna del Guerrino, a small but renowned eatery with a terrace overlooking the valley we had just traversed. Nice food, great surroundings, cold drinks and good company – what more could you want!
It was hard to pull ourselves away from such idyllic surroundings, but we had to move on. By now we were in the full heat of the midday sun, so completed the walk down into Greve in Chianti with the minimum of fuss.
The Saturday market was just clearing as we arrived. While Anthony caught the service bus back to Panzano to fetch the minibus, we pottered round the square watching the clean up operation and enjoying cool drinks.
In the Chianti region, the symbol of the Black Rooster is never far away. The logo of a Black Rooster on a gold background in a pink surround is the official seal of the Chianti Classico wine. So we can certainly agree with this sentiment.
On the way back we had hoped to call in at Monteriggioni, another excellently preserved small, walled mediaeval town. Unfortunately some kind of festival was underway, and we didn’t feel we could warrant the €12 entrance fee for a quick look round. Never mind: we got to see it from the outside, and the walls are quite impressive.
Back at the Voltrona we had time for a swim before getting ready for dinner – tonight at another restaurant in San Gimignano, and officially our end-of-holiday group meal. In practice we had a long day on departure day (more of which later) but that didn’t spoil the evening.
In the confines of one of the smallest rooms ever to cater for twenty-odd people, we ate good food, drank beer and wine, and – in the form of Tiramisu and Panecotta – enjoyed the best desert of the week. Err ….. probably.
Afterwards, we headed back to the Voltrona. But the night was still young, and the Chianti was flowing. And, before we knew it, it was the wee small hours – and a very large quantity of Chianti had been consumed.