On Day 8, a taxi ride to the beginning of the walk (cost included). This was one of my favorite walking days because we were in the Chianti Classico region, and it was grape picking season. (Move over, Lucy, and we’ll help stomp those grapes!)
There was vineyard after vineyard (some fenced off), and one workman insisted on giving us grapes to eat when we stopped to watch them. There were also cypress tress, pines, olive groves, and many fields to walk through.
Directions to Signora Baldini, in Radda (our stop for two nights) went something like this: “…proceed 200 metres past the Agip station, fork right, then left over the bridge and follow the main road into town. There is no sidewalk/pavement. You reach the old hilltop town centre at the Valdarno gate. Walk through the gate and straight through the town and out the other gate. Straight ahead onto the main road downhill. On the right, a block of houses with a stretch of red pavement in front. Mrs. Baldini’s house is the second one.”
It was a real treat staying with Mrs. Baldini. Her house has rooms for guests in a small garden (downhill a bit from the main house) overlooking the valley and hills of Radda. She spoke no English, but we managed with a few words of Italian and lots of hand signals. Mrs. Baldini’s daughter spoke fluent English. We had a very lovely room, and the next morning, Mrs. Baldini trotted downhill carrying Bruschetta, tomatoes, fruit, coffee and omelets. (I had trouble with the incline to her house in hiking boots without carrying a tray loaded with enough food for four persons!) We offered to come up to the main house for breakfast to lighten the load, but she wouldn’t hear of it. What a wonderful lady. It is so much more fun meeting and staying with the people, than big hotels.
Dinner was included one night, and the other we ate at the charming Pizzeria Da Michele. Really good food! Restaurant eating is tricky throughout Italy because you never know what evening one may be closed. For example, one closes on a Tuesday, another on a Thursday, etc.
While in Radda on Day 9, we did a 6-hour, 18 km. circular walk up to Gaiole. We passed by Vistarenni, a 17th century mansion, and walked through Vertine, another towered village on a ridge which had many places to try (and buy) Chianti. Gaiole was in the valley beyond Vertine.
This entire route is recommended by Michelin as a drive through the Chianti area. As a result, there were many tourists in the little villages we walked to and through, sightseeing, picnicing and buying wine. It’s difficult to describe how stunning and enchanting Tuscany really is.
It was back to Radda and Mrs. Baldini’s for our last night there. Tomorrow we walk to Panzano….