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What's Chianti?

A Brief History 

The name Chianti evokes the image of an ancient land - a land whose turbolent history starts with the Etruscans, and witnesses the passage of the Romans, the Lombards, the factions of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the rise of the communes and the struggles between the Empire and the Papacy. Above all it evokes the image of the delightful vintages of the region which have been made here since Etruscan times.  

In today's Chianti Classico we have the mature flowering of a truly venerable tradition unmatched in the history of viticulture. Secluded in the hills between Florence and Siena, Chianti is a microcosm of the stormy history of Italy.  The Etruscans are still alive in the customs that have not entirely died in the twentieth century and in the enigmatic smiles of the Chianti village folk.  

The Romans built their estates not so differently from those of today. the Lombards and later the Guelphs and the Ghibellines put castles at every strategic point and built Romanesque abbeys and churches that are still in use. 

In the late middle ages Chianti was the cockpit of Italy and was the scene of many decisive battles. Indeed many of its mediaeval buildings were destroyed in the Aragonese invasions of the fifteenth century, but it has maintained its continuity with the past particularly through the production of its fine wines. 

Houses in Chiantishire 

Throughout the middle ages the Chianti country dominated by numerous castles was populated by an aristocracy, which owned all the land, and a population that worked it, in the long established Roman-Etruscan tradition, cultivating the vineyards, producing olive-oil and cereals as well as breeding all kinds of cattle. Then the castle ceased to exert dominion and disappeared ending its protective function while the rich villagers together with the merchants began to build their own houses giving accommodation to those poor inhabitants of the castle that found work on the land; and allowing them to keep half of their produce in exchange for it. 

In "Chiantishire" the family produced olive oil, cultivated the vineyard, the grain, the maize and the necessary forage for the animals, spinning wool of their own sheep to make their clothes, made their own utensils, furniture, working tools and was therefore completely self supporting. 

The typical farm house had the shape of an elongated cube, usually with cellars and often with stables on the ground floor, then on the first floor the living accommodation and yet above that the storage for fodder and food. The last twenty years has seen a renewal both in populating the area and in newly mechanised agriculture leading to a return to the cultivation of vineyards, of olive-oil and fruit.  

The farm houses are much in demand from a greater number of people who are turning to the countryside in search of a new sense of life made to the measure of man both in its natural rhythms and in its landscapes.

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