Is there any city in Europe with a history quite as grand as Florence? From its origins as an important Roman city, through a prosperous Middle Ages as a centre of trade and then, of course, as the birth-place of the Italian Renaissance, Florence has seen it all. Known as Firenze in Italian, Florence is also the capital of Tuscany, the beating heart of the Italian wine industry and home to a plethora of high quality regions, producers and the undoubted cradle of the noble Sangiovese grape. Millions of people pass through Florence every year and so few really discover its links to the surrounding countryside, filled with rolling hills covered in vines and olive groves. From the famed Chianti Classico to the almost mythical Brunello di Montalcino, top quality vineyards are well within striking distance of the famous city, and should you want to spend a little more time within its walls, there's a great selection of wine bars and restaurants to choose from as well.
First, though, a little bit about Florence and Tuscan wine. Wine has been a staple product of the region since the first commercial vineyards were planted by the Romans over 2,000 years ago. Then throughout Florence's proud history of trade and mercantile strength, it became absolutely key, to the point where over 8 million gallons of wine were entering the city every year throughout the 14th century! Chianti lays claim to being the oldest defined wine region in the world, with its borders drawn up and decided upon in 1716, whilst the Italian Renaissance likely received more than its fair share of vinous lubrication. Needless to say, wine beats in the veins of the people here and particularly over the last 30 years, quality has risen to levels never seen before. From the creation of Super-Tuscans to the rediscovery of the original, 'classico' regions, Tuscany is alive with the sound of wine.
Are you visiting Florence and want to discover more? Then this guide is for you. We're going to detail three very different wine trips to vineyards, some of the best bars and restaurants to discover in the city as well as some help with the wine terminology here. Read on the discover how to make the best use of your time in this truly magical city!
Castello Monterinaldi's Chianti Classico is actually one of their most affordable and accessible wines, yet we feel it's one of their very best! Produced mainly from Sangiovese with a touch of Caniaolo and Colorino for depth of colour and extra verve, this is one of the more engaging Chianti Classico wines on the market. Sour cherries, dried herbs, tobacco and that wonderful, vibrant acidity that keeps the very best Sangiovese refreshing over the years. Delicious in youth but drink your bottles over 5-8 years and watch it unfurl into something truly special; elegant, complex and utterly delicious!
For more information, or to book a visit with Castello Monterinaldi, contact them via their website. The winery also sells our 12-bottle wine luggage if you're looking to fly back with some great Tuscan wine.
Whilst the Rosso di Montalcino is a lot more approachable whilst young, a glass of Brunello is a must after you've visited Biondi Santi. These wines are structured and dense, rewarding well over a decade of patient cellaring, slowly unfurling to become a broad, powerful expression of Sangiovese. Whilst the standard tasting includes a current release of Brunello, it's worth asking if there are any older bottles they wouldn't mind opening (there often are!) and you'll see what we mean....
For more information, or to book a visit with Biondi Santi, you'll find their contact details through their website
A remarkable wine, not least because it's the blend of two vintages; 2008 and 2009. Whilst completely normal in Champagne, this isn't a typical practice elsewhere and very rarely indeed with red wine! Made in tiny quantities from their very best plots of land, this 100% Sangiovese wine is quite special, and aged for long periods of time before release so that it's mature and ready to drink. Sweet spices, menthol, dried cherries and dried violets tumble out of the glass, still firm and fresh but certainly ready to drink. The perfect bottle of wine to drink whilst looking out over the hillsides of Tuscany and down into the town of Montepulciano. Don't worry, if you overindulge there are rooms to stay overnight in the winery, so go for that second bottle should you want to....
For more information, or to book a visit with Salcheto, you'll find their contact details through their website
All of the above wineries require transport to reach. If you'd prefer to have the logistics taken out of your hands, consider booking a tour with Italy Unfiltered, a high quality outfit committed to showing you Tuscany in a way you've never seen it before! They also carry Lazenne's 12 and 15 bottle wine suitcases so you can fly back with your Tuscan wine selection!
After a long day walking around the beautiful city of Florence, taking in the sights, the architecture and indulging your cultural side, we think it's only right to leave room for a glass of wine or two! Fortunately, Florence has you covered here as well with a variety of small bars, restaurants and some charming wine shops should you want to transport a few bottles home with you, as a memory of your time here. Here's a small selection of the very best:
Enoteca Pitti Gola e Cantina
Piazza de' Pitti, 16
If you love Tuscan wine, you're going to love Pitti Gola e Cantina. This is a small, charming wine-shop and bar in front of the Pitti Palace, focusing on high quality Tuscan wine. Wine is served by the glass and, of course, available to purchase by the bottle but our recommendation is to get in touch with them in advance and see if you can join one of their regularly scheduled wine tastings. There's even a Wine Tasting Lunch option for members of their club, which is always worth enquiring about, member or no.... http://pittigolaecantina.com/
Le Volpi e L'Uva
Plaza dei Rossi, 1
This is a charming, local wine bar with so much to offer! We came here for the wine but the food is absolutely delicious, well priced and authentic. There's a big variety of local wines available by the glass here and if in doubt, our recommendation is to put yourself in the capable hands of the waitstaff who are both knowledgeable and friendly; you're in for a real treat! Close to the Ponte Vecchio, this is our top choice for a lazy afternoon to indulge yourself and watch the world go by! https://www.levolpieluva.com/home-english
Via delle Oche, 27
As far as wine shops go, Enoteca Alessi is right up there with the best. Located in the heart of the old town of Florence and ran by the Alessi family since 1952, this remarkable store has captured the hearts of anyone fortunate enough to stumble across it. Their main focus, as you might expect, is on Italian wine but there's also a broad range of spirits, beers and even some delicious food to order at their little bar, should you get hungry whilst browsing! https://enotecaalessi.it/
Piazza del Mercato Centrale
Don't let the busy, market location of this Enoteca dissuade you from visiting, as you'll miss one of the most interesting wine shops in the city. A small but carefully thought out selection of wines greets you here at very fair prices, as well as some aged beauties from some of the big names in Tuscany. It's also a great excuse to explore the market, pick up some cold meats, cheeses, olives, bread.... add that bottle of wine and you're ready for a picnic! Over 60 years of family business and they're still going strong. https://www.enotecamarconcini.it/index.php
Italy is another country with a confusing number of different terms and names you might find on wine labels. There are subtle differences between the types of producers, as well as quite important distinctions that can be the difference between accidentally buying a light, frothy wine when you wanted something heavy and full bodied! Here's a quick break-down of some of the most important terms to be aware of, and their translation into English:
Annata – Vintage Year
Azienda Agricola – Wine Estate
Bianco – White
Cantina – Cellar or Winery
Cantina Sociale – A Co-operative winery
Classico – Original zone of production
Dolce – Sweet
Frizzante – Semi Sparkling
Metodo Classico – Bottle fermented sparkling wine-lover
Riserva – A wine aged for longer than usual, often a special selection
Rosato – Rose wine
Rosso – Red
Secco – Dry
Spumante – Sparkling
Superiore – A riper, usually better version of a classic region
Vigna – Vineyard
Vino – Wine
Florence may be a city with a grand history, but it has a quite remarkable present as well, not to mention its future. A city packed with things to see, things to do and just as importantly, things to eat and drink. Whether you decide to take a short journey outside the city to visit a local winery or explore the myriad shops, bars and restaurants within it, we're confident that you'll have a wonderful time in Florence. Saluti!
It's very likely you'll want to bring some these delicious wines back with you, and we don't blame you! To learn more about how to fly with wine, read our article explaining the simple steps here
For more on our specially designed wine luggage and suitcases and more detailed information on how to travel with alcohol, check out the links below: