The city's origins go back to Etruscan times of which there are many visible remains to explore both in the excavations and in the Archeological museum in the city center.
Salingolpe, as it was known in the early Middle Ages, was given as a fief by Matilda of Tuscany in the 11th century to the powerful Count Guidi family. In the mid 1200's the "Lega of Chianti" was formed as a governing body and Castellina, Radda and Gaiole were the sole participants. Eventually, the Florentines turned it into an important stronghold due to its strategic position between Florence and Siena, of which today the Rocca still remains. The town was destroyed and rebuilt many times during the battles between the two poweful cities from the north and south, and every time the town was reconstructed, they made bigger defensive walls. Legend has it that even Brunelleschi was asked to work on the project of new walls for the town.
The ‘borgo’ still preserves the quadrilateral shape of the ancient medieval fortification and reminders of the many towers that once protected it from invasion during the period of conflict between Florence and Siena can be seen incorporated into some of the modern architecture. The main fortification, called the Rocca and its huge 14th-century tower, has a magnificent view over the town and the surrounding countryside. It is a stunning venue for civil wedding ceremonies or events.
Along the ancient walls there lies an impressive underground tunnel, Via della Volte, which is lined with shops, artisans and restaurants. The tunnel itself goes around the city, enclosing the city center from below and it makes for a cool and refreshing escape from the summer sun. It was once an open air road and as the city felt the need to expand, it built over the road creating a “tunnel”. This unique formation is divided by the main street, Via Ferruccio which houses more boutiques, workshops, cafes and important buildings such as Palazzo Banciardi and Palazzo Squarcialupi.
The Church of San Salvatore was rebuilt in 1945 after the devastation of WWII, but still displays a valuable fresco by Lorenzo Bicci depicting the Virgin Mary with Child and a wooden statue from the Renaissance.
Italians, as a rule, are not drinkers—at least, not as the Anglo-Saxon understands the term. It's not that
Italians avoid the stuff; they just don't consider it sufficient recreation unto itself. Alcohol goes with things.
As a result, Italy is not a cocktail country. The national liquor—grappa—is, an acquired taste. Gummy, sweet liqueurs abound, and nobody knows how to make a dry martini. Luckily, there's Campari.
Campari has associations. Summer-weight suits with narrow lapels, Ray-Ban Wayfarers, Vespas, brown-eyed blondes in Capri pants. La dolce vita. A violently red, bittered-up 48-proof vermouth doesn't sound like much to build a cocktail culture on, but somehow it works. In fact, the Negroni is one of the world's indispensable cocktails.
Everyone has a Negroni recipe they consider the "best." Try this one on for size.
SERVINGS: MAKES 1
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Tony Moglia's grandparents immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's. He's a dual citizen who has traveled extensively throughout Italy for 40 years. He's happily married to a vibrant dancer who together have two children and three grandchildren. Tony has dreamed of Villas of Italy since his first trip to Italy, and now he shares his dream with you.