Panzano in Chianti is located in Tuscany, midway between Florence and Siena. Picturesque olive orchards, vineyards, and wild flowers blanket the hillsides. It’s a tiny place, and most people go to have dinner at Mac Darios. I spent about five days visiting a friend and enjoying some of the best views in Chianti – not to mention there are some pretty interesting people that call Panzano home.
Panzano may be small, but I returned home with an abundance of memories in my carry-on. Join me on a walk through Panzano in pictures.
Every Italian city has an important church or duomo. Panzano is a hill town, and the church, Santa Maria Assunta sits next to a castle at the highest point in the city. After all, what’s a castle if you can’t see who’s coming to visit long before they can see you?
A Great Bar
On the corner in front of the church is Il Vinaio – Enoteca and Pub, one of a handful of restaurants in Panzano. It’s a great place for a casual meal, a cappuccino, or to buy a pack of cigarettes. I ate my lunch sitting outside in this pretty little garden. And yes, they speak English. Be sure to ask for Brian.
Update: April 6, 2020 Academia del Buon Gusto is now closed.
A Unique Resident
A few doors down is (in my opinion) the most interesting place in Panzano, Accademia del Buon Gusto. The owner, Stefano Salvatori has created this unique and eclectic space where you can not only taste the local wines, you can also sample olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and local honey. The only problem is you will want to take it all home with you. That’s what shipping is for.
By far the best thing about Accademia del Buon Gusto, is Stefano. His love of life emanates from his sparkling blue eyes and his easy smile. Stefano is the kind of person who never meets a stranger and is happy to share wine and philosophy, as long as you care to stay.
The Local Market
The first Sunday of each month, there is an outdoor market with produce, cheeses, antiques, hand-made soaps, olive oil, honey, fresh produce and most anything else you can think of. All of the cheese, olive oil and honey vendors offered tastings. The market begins in Piazza Bucciarelli, and continues up the hill towards the church. I coveted a globe from the 1970’s with colorful, graphic, constellations. There was also a nice selection of vintage jewelry.
Mac Darios is a happening spot in Panzano, especially on the weekends. People come from all over the Italy, indeed all over the world, to eat, drink, talk, and just enjoy the scene at L’ Antica Macelleria Cecchini There’s always an antipasti spread with wine served from straw wrapped bottles. I had to pass Dario’s every day as I walked towards Piazza Bucciarelli. One day I heard Slave To Love, by Bryan Ferry blasting from inside. That got my attention. The combination of wine and music evoked memories and emotions long forgotten. I just didn’t expect it to happen while passing by the butcher’s shop! I don’t consider myself a meat eater, but I do love a good salumi! If you are a carnivore, or just enjoy a good party, this is the place for you. Mac Darios is the restaurant across the street and you’ll need to make a reservation.
This was the view from my friend’s place one foggy morning. I remember seeing the fog rolling in, and not knowing at first what it was. I thought it was smoke from a fire in the distance. It kept growing and swirling around like a living thing. I think it’s the first time in my life I’d seen fog like that.
A trip anywhere in Tuscany would not be complete without a stop at a vineyard. This lovely vista was a five minute walk from my friend’s house. There are so many to chose you can just drive until you see something interesting, then stop.
Finally, I have to thank my friend David for extending the invitation and providing the opportunity for me to see another side of Italy. Some of the most interesting people in the world either live in Panzano, or travel there on a regular basis. If you need a great driver check out his website:
Follow Your Nose.
All materials ©pennysadler 2012