Editors note: This story originally appeared in the San Diego Reader under the title: Pontassieve, Italy: Where Wine Lover’s Go. I decided to republish here it, because I felt it could be of interest to readers who are interested in a fun day trip from Florence. The piece also gives another glimpse into our time WWOOFing in Italy, which is why I chose to rework the title.
Bombed into near oblivion during World War II by Allied planes because of its importance as a railway junction, the Tuscan town of Pontassieve is back on the radar again, this time for its fantastic regional wines.
Situated nine miles south of Florence, the hills of this quaint one-pub town (there may be only one — the Stony Pub — but it’s one of the finest I’ve been to) are alive with vineyards, olive groves and century-old estates that survived the doom-and-gloom era of the world’s war.
Canaiolo and sangiovese — to name a couple varietals — reign supreme in the town where wineries still sell their product directly from wine cellars without the need to inundate their customers with overpriced souvenirs, like faux grape flip-flops, and smooth jazz in tasting rooms that are more akin to a turnpike rest stop.
At Fattoria Cerreto Libri, for example, wine enthusiasts are greeted by owner Andrea Zanfei at the organic farm’s wine cellar, where guests can purchase already bottled Chianti Rufina, vin santo or grappa, among others, or bring their own jug to fill up on the farm’s tasty table wine. Zanfei runs the agriturismo farm with his wife Valentina Baldini Libri, whose family has owned the property since 1791.
Pontassieve is about a 20-minute train ride from Florence, and makes a perfect day trip to experience Tuscan wine country. Most of the wineries are located in the steep hills of the region; however, they’re serviced by easily accessible gravel roads.
Fattoria Cerreto Libri, for instance, is an approximate 30-minute walk from the train station—but what a walk it is. After you get off the main street, the gravel road winds up through the family’s vineyard and olive groves to their 18th century estate.
For the bohemians out there, I suggest grabbing one of the farm’s bottles (the 2006 Chianti Ruffino is my favorite and costs roughly 14 euro) and then filling a jug for the walk and train ride back to Florence.
What are some of your favorite small towns that you’ve encountered while traveling?
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