Everyone knows Chiantishire, but there are actually another seven Chianti sub-zones and I have been living in one of them for the past 21 years—Chianti Rufina—the smallest and probably the least known. Here’s a secret: it’s actually one of the most happening towns in the Valdisieve.
Ph. Helen Farrell
With its own theatre boasting a playbill of directors and actors driving over from Florence, the Museum of Vines and Wines housed in the sixteenth-century Villa Poggio Reale, an active tennis club (I’m a member!), a sports stadium that regularly holds sagre, and an inordinately large number of cultural associations, choirs and bands, Rufina is not to be overlooked in terms of its social pulling power.
Earlier this year, a sign suddenly appeared on the way into town, declaring Rufina as the “production zone of Bardiccio (typical local sausage)”. Like the rest of Italy, Tuscany is the source of untold little-known ingredients, many of which originate from the reusing of produce, the famous cucina povera. Bardiccio is one such ingredient, a Tuscan pork sausage flavoured with fennel seeds.
Macelleria Grazzini (via Piave 16), my favourite butcher not only for their home-produced bardiccio but also for the finocchiona and salamis, has been in the Grazzini family since 1860. Today the new owners, the Zagli family, carry on the same traditions.
Just a few doors down on the main road, at via Piave 10, you might be surprised to learn that French patisserie is the order of the day. Start proceedings with the most buttery of pain au chocolat. Baker and owner Claudio Rocchini studied in France, so expect proper croissants, chocolate éclairs and lots more impressive gateaux.
Keep walking up the street and you come across Enoteca Bomboniere Puliti (viale Duca della Vittoria 15). An Aladdin’s cave of local labels, this is where we locals all flock in search of sustenance, i.e. wine and chocolate.
When it’s gelato that you crave, then plumb for Il Galletto Bar (via XXV Aprile 8f). Homemade, natural and thirst quenching, there really is no better place to observe locals young and old come together to socialize over coppetta or cone, the diehard Spritz or a timeless, strictly Chianti Rufina glass of wine.