On our last day in Tuscany, while the rest of the family went to the U.S. World War II cemetery near Florence (which we had already visited), Michael and I wound our way through the Chianti countryside to Volpaia, a gorgeous, peaceful hill town near Rada. We tried to visit Volpaia last spring but the sky opened up and drenched us and the restaurant to which we were heading. On Friday, July 6, however, the sun was hot, the sky was blue, and Volpaia awaited.
Typical of many Italian hill towns, Volpaia was originally a medieval fortified castle that was probably constructed in the 10th century. Like Pietrafitta and Castellina, it lay in the crossroads between Florence and Siena and was frequently besieged by one or the other. Today it’s a sleepy, picturesque village that boasts beautiful old buildings, a couple of restaurants, and a wine-tasting shop but little else. As the saying goes, “it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” Despite its charm, I wouldn’t want to live there for two reasons: Volpaia gets snow in the winter, making it difficult to drive through the steep, twisty country roads, and the peace and quiet would drive me crazy after a couple of weeks. I prefer busy cities any day!
When we got to Volpaia, Michael stopped by the restaurant to make a reservation and request a patio table overlooking the Chianti hills and the valley below. It was a good thing he did, because by the time we finished wandering around and tasting the local wine about an hour later, most of the patio tables were full.
The receptionist at our hotel last spring recommended Ristorante la Bottega, and what a great place it turned out to be. The view is gorgeous, and the patio was lined with beautiful dark purple geraniums. I’d never seen that color geranium before, but I want some! We began with a salumi platter, and I followed that with cinghiale (wild boar). I think Michael had pork with truffles. We shared a carafe of local white wine. Everything was delicious and beautiful to look at, and the setting was spectacular and relaxing.
We finally dragged ourselves away and drove down the hill to Rada. Just as we reached the main square there, the sky opened up (again! That happened to us last spring as well. What IS it about Rada?). We ducked into a bar and slowly drank cold coffee lattes, hoping the rain would let up. It sort of did and we raced back to the car and sped home.
And so far in Chianti, Volpaia wins the prize for most beautiful hill town. We’ll be back!
P.S., We all went to Florence on Wednesday to see Michelangelo’s David and The Prisoners. I won’t write about Florence now because I want to spend several days there, and I’ll write about it when we do.