Escape to the countryside with holidays to Montaione. This hillside Tuscan town offers walks through Chianti vineyards and olive groves, and a hotchpotch of Medieval villages to explore.
A country manor
The sleepy Medieval town of Montaione sits quietly in the centre of Tuscany. It may be slightly off the beaten track, but some of Italy's major players – Florence, Siena and Pisa – are all within an hour's drive. And it's not just the location that’s attractive. Montaione's hillside position offers sweeping views of the lush vineyards and olive groves that characterise the surrounding Chianti countryside.
Medieval old town
Montaione’s old town is a cat’s cradle of narrow cobbled streets and a couple of piazzas where locals idly play chess outside their favourite coffee shop. The 14th-century Pretorian Palace – once a home to royals and now the local library and museum – dominates the town. The oldest building, however, is the pretty 13th-century San Regolo Church and bell tower. There’s also a handful of family-run trattorias, a quaint Anglo-Saxon pub, and a Friday market in Piazza Gramsci.
Montaione's also the name given to the district that counts off eight time-battered villages, all within a 15-minute drive of the town itself. Full of historic interest, you’ll find Roman remains at Il Muraccio, while the area's biggest tourist draw, The Holy Mount monastery, is at San Vivaldo. There are also crumbling Medieval castles – La Camporena and La Pietra – plus a 27-hole mountain and lake golf course at Castelfalfi.
Close to Florence
A 60-minute drive through the rolling Tuscan hills takes you to Florence, Italy's culture capital. Gorge on the world's biggest collection of Renaissance art at the Uffizi gallery, then tuck in to a phonebook-thick steak at one of the restaurants in Piazza Santo Spirito. And don't forget to take an admiring peek at Michelangelo's monumental statue of David. It’s in Galleria dell'Accademia.
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