Via delle Volte is a medieval street in Castellina, which runs along the old city walls. Originally it was open to the sky, but these days it is an underground street. It was gradually covered-in over the years by houses and shops being built up against the wall, when the wall were no longer needed for defensive purposes.
It is great to take a walk along this ancient arched passage, with its secret nooks and cellars. You can even do some shopping along the way - perhaps stop off and buy some postcards to send to your VT friends.
The castle of Castellina dates back to the 15th century and was built by the order of Lorenzo il Manifico, the ruler of Firenze, who sent his famous military architect, Giuliano da Sangallo, to help reinforce of the place.
Nowadays, the atrium of the castle is used for exibiting Etruscan archaeological finds. Unfortunatelly, by the time of my visit the castle was closed for public visitors.
Castellina in Chianti is a popular tourism destination for visitors to the Chianti classico wine zone of Tuscany: www.castellina.com It has an attractive small main street and city walls. Fewer tourists visit the Etruscan tomb nearby but this should not be missed.
Via delle Volte is very impressive arched passage along the east side of the defense city walls. It is also called Pomerium, which means oficially available corridor, and in archaic times was used for sacred rites. Originally, the corridor was without a roof but afterwards it was closed with the buildings.
The church of San Salvatore originally dates back to the 16th century, but it was rebuilt and extended in neo-romanic style after destruction in WW II. The church keep important 14th century fresco of Madonna by Bicci di Lorenzo. Worth of note is also Renaissance wooden statue of Sant' Barnaba, the former patron sainf of the city.
Castellina in Chianti has very long history, probably dating back to the 7th century B.C. There excist donkey traks leading from the mountains down to Castellina, proving of important communication link between large Etruscan cities (Vulci, Vetulonia and Roselle) and the trading centers of Spina in the north.
In the medieval times Castellina had optimal strategic location which guaranteed the controll of all surrounding roads and the valley of the Elsa river. It was once surrounded by mighty walls and defending towers, but had only two gates, one pointed towards Siena, the other towards Florence.
Parts of the defending walls can still be seen today, unfortunatelly most has been integrated into the later construction of houses.
Castellina in Chianti is a charming small town that has retained its medieval appearance which exudes idyllic and undisturben peace. It is just a perfect place for an half day trip.
The name Chianti for wine produced in this region was first mentioned in 1404 in one document of the merchant Francesco Datini from Prato. Production of wine in Chianti has very long history and the wine sort was also called "vin vermiglio". Lega del Chianti was established in order to recognizing the neccessity of issuing some rules concerning the wine cultivation. For example, it was forbidden to start the vintage before September 29th, which was feast day of St. Michael. This automatically eliminated premature vintages, guaranting good quality of wines. Even Dante and Bocaccio knew well "cinnabar grape juice" of the Chianti hills.
In 1924 a consortium for the protection of the Chianti Classico was founded and the name "Gallo Nero" (Black Rooster) was choosen as a trade-mark. In 1967 the Chianti region was granted the D.O.C., nomination securing the controlled name and origin of the wine.
Today the Chianti Classico wine consists of an exactly prescribed mixture of various types of grapes: 90% of Sangiove 75, 10% of red Canaiolo 5, and white grapes of Trebbiano and Malvasia 2 - 5%.
The gelateria at the 5-way road junction is the best for 50 miles in any direction. I know. I have tried them all. The seasonal fruit ice-creams are spectacular, so make sure you try the strawberry in May!