Planning a holiday to Italy? It could well be the best decision of your life – at least in terms of holiday destinations! While you can’t really go too far wrong visiting any part of the country, one of the most popular places to visit is Tuscany. The gorgeous rolling hills, the Renaissance cities with their high art and culture and, of course, the fabulous food and wine have been delighting visitors for centuries – and continue to do so. |
Soak Up the Charm of a Renowned Region
Speaking of food and wine… one of the most renowned regions within Tuscany is Chianti, an area that encompasses a true wine-growing heartland. Any oenophile worth their salt will be familiar with the name, but it’s so lovely it doesn’t really matter if you don’t know a Sangiovese from a salumi – you can’t help but be charmed by all the wonderful things to do in Chianti.
But while you’re visiting vineyards for tastings, driving along rural roads taking in picturesque views and filling yourself with the fantastic traditional food, don’t forget to stock up on a few things to take home to keep the memories alive.
Here’s what to look out for.
If you’ve already got a taste for truffles you’ll know what all the fuss is about, but if you haven’t, you’re in for a treat here. Sampling the traditional gastronomy is one of the best things to do in Chianti, and you’ll find a wealth of dishes that use the delicate, earthy flavour of this king of mushrooms. Whether you buy white ones, black ones, dried ones, ones infused in olive oil or in any other kind of product, truffles make for the perfect gift to take back for friends, family or as a treat for yourself.
Olive oil is another classic ‘take-home’ product that’s well worth some extra careful packaging to get back. Your choices are almost endless and you can pick up fabulous oil at local producers, in delicatessens and even in souvenir shops. The flavours and varieties are almost endless, but if you’re looking for authenticity, make sure you’re buying oil made from the olives in the local region (yes, olive oil tastes different all over Italy!).
There’s a long tradition surrounding the beautiful ceramics of this region and, even though the pieces are delicate and a little tricky to get home, it’s well worth it and most places will offer to wrap and ship them home for you anyway. You can purchase everything from tiny plates or a coffee cup to entire table settings, platters, jugs and vases. The vibrant, hand painted colours of the local ceramics are their hallmark, and when you see (and use) them in the context of your own home you’ll be transported back to your dream holiday…
Ah, we’ve saved the best and most obvious for last – because visiting a vineyard or wine estate is one of the most popular things to do in Chianti and it would be a crime not to go home with a few souvenirs. Many of the wines you’ll sample in the region are not for export meaning you won’t find them elsewhere (or even hear of them), so being at the source and being able to taste and select them to send/take home is an opportunity not to be missed. The great thing about this is you’ll then have a contact so you’ll be able to continue to order directly! Of course wine also makes an ideal gift, but it’s quite difficult to give away…
Browsing and shopping at local shops and markets is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Chianti. While there’s so much from which to choose, any of these items mentioned above make the perfect gift for your loved ones or yourself.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best things to do in Chianti. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro's company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you're keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
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