Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gaiole in Chianti (Tuscany), Italy - Badia a Coltibuono

On a crisp, autumn day in October, we took a day trip from Bologna to Gaiole in Chianti, twisting through the peaks and valleys of the Tuscan roads, finally winding up one last hill to be met with the impressive 1,000 year old facade of Badia a Coltibuono (meaning Abbey of the Good Harvest), one of the region's most well known wineries. 

For 5EUR you can take a tour of the gardens, villa and wine cellars, where you will be guided through the rich history of the property.

In 1051 the monks of the Vallombrosan Order, a Tuscan reform of the Benedictines, founded the Abbey and also began planting the first vineyards in the Upper Chianti area. Over the centuries they extended their vast land holdings to include many thousands of acres and developed a flourishing wine production and commerce. 

In 1810, when Tuscany was under Napoleonic rule, the monks were forced to leave Coltibuono and the monastery was secularized. 

The estate was first sold by lottery and then in 1846, Coltibuono was bought by Guido Giuntini, a Florentine banker and great grandfather of Piero Stucchi-Prinetti, the present owner. 

Under the guidance of Piero Stucchi Prinetti, the estate grew and built a solid reputation in Italy and abroad through the high quality of its products.

Badia a Coltibuono has eight double rooms and five apartments if you wish to stay overnight on the property. As a guest of the resort you can enjoy the beautiful italian gardens and an open air swimming pool, as well as a discount on meals at Badia's restaurant and their famous cooking classes.

As expected, the tour of the resort's wine cellars was highly impressive. Enormous barrels constructed in Germany line the cavernous space from floor to ceiling.

The tour takes you deeper into the cellar through the owner's private wine collection, with bottles dating all the way back to the 1800s.

We paused for lunch, in the shadow of the medieval monastery, at Badia's own restaurant on the property. In warmer months, you can dine al fresco and enjoy the verdant Tuscan landscape view. Service was impeccable, and the food, which is best described as a modern twist on classic regional fare, was just delicious. There is also a tasting menu that comes with a different wine pairing from Badia's vineyard for each of the four courses.

Badia a Coltibuono's chianti classico wine
a simple mixed garden salad
papardelle with wild boar ragu, pine nuts, and cocoa beans
dark chocolate mousse, light crispy biscuits and blueberry ice cream
After lunch we took a look around the monastery on the property, and then drove the two hours back to Bologna. Badia a Coltibuono is a wonderful and worthwhile stop for those of you planning a Tuscan itinerary. 

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