The stunning town of Colle di Val d’Elsa doesn’t feature on the main tourist trail very often. Thanks to this lack of crowds, the charming place has retained a medieval atmosphere and a true Tuscan feel. If you’re searching for things to do in Chianti, look no further. |
The medieval historic centre is perched atop a high hillock. This old centre offers breath-taking panoramic views over narrow valleys and the Elsa river. In fact, the town is divided into three parts by these valleys.
To get there from the lower part of the town, you can wander down a beautiful stone tunnel that leads to a public lift. Along the way, you can read about the city’s history on the posters lining the tunnel walls. This is an easy way to get to the old centre, and when you disembark from the lift you’ll find yourself on a terrace with an excellent view. From here, it’s easy to find numerous outdoor restaurants and cultural attractions.
Historically, the three parts of the town were called Piano, Castello and Borgo. Nowadays, the locals use the names Colle alta and bassa (high and low Colle) to refer to different areas. The remains of old fortress walls still surround the town, and along the road to Volterra you can see the gate belonging to the moat that once encircled the city.
Museums and Attractions
There are plenty of things to do in Chianti’s medieval hidden gem. Here are just a small selection of your options:
The Archeological Museum houses artefacts discovered in the Elsa Valley. At Via Fossi 8 in Colle bassa, you’ll find the Crystal Glass Museum. The collections of handmade crystal glass span from medieval oeuvres to twentieth century creations. You can learn also about the manufacturing techniques of this art during your visit. If you’re interested in architecture, one of the must-sees is the Duomo (dome) and the Tower House. The town is also proud to be the birthplace of Cennino d’Andrea Cennini. A remarkable Italian painter whose work was influenced by Giotto, his life bridged the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. You will find many of his masterworks in the museums here.
Around 95% of Italian crystal glass production (and 14% of worldwide production) takes place here. If you plan on visiting on the first Sunday of the month, another interesting thing to do here is to stop by the buzzing market and watch a glass making show. You can pick up a wide variety of local goods such as artisan cheeses, clothing and, of course, glassware. There are also open air demonstrations at Via della Misericordia. You might see glassworkers showcasing anything from engraving wine glasses to crafting delicate swans out of molten glass.
You really wouldn’t want to miss out on this hidden gem during your stay in Tuscany. As you can see, Colle di Val d’Elsa is top of many people’s list of things to do in Chianti for a reason!
To get the most out of your experience, a guided tour with a reputable travel company is the best way to go about it. The guide will ensure that you see all the highlights and have plenty of time to explore at your own pace. They will also be able to introduce you to scenic spots and Tuscan culture that only the locals know.
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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