Castellina in Chianti, the birthplace of the famous Black Rooster
Castellina in Chianti dates back to the Etruscan era and in the Middle Ages was the center of important historical events: it became an outpost of Florence, joined the League of Chianti and established itself as the capital of one of the "Terzieri", an ancient administrative division. Due to its strategical location between Siena and Florence, it has been at center of the struggle between these two Republics and the village was surrounded by an impressive hexagonal wall which is still visible today.
The black rooster is the symbol that has made the Chianti region famous in the world, conveyed as a trademark of the Chianti Classico Consortium since its establishment in 1924, but this animal represents the Chianti area long before the Chianti Classico.
The legend of the Black Rooster is strongly connected to Castellina in Chianti. It dates back at least to the middle of the thirteenth century, when it was drawn on the banners of the Chianti League, the military and administrative institution which was composed by the "Terzieri" of Castellina, Gaiole and Radda in Chianti.
But there's also a charming legend behind the rooster which is linked to the rivalry between Florence and Siena. As the story goes, the two Republics were tired of the constant battles to define the territorial boundaries in the Chianti area, so they agreed to settle the dispute definitively. They arranged a contest: two knights had to leave in the morning at cockcrow, each from their own city heading to the opposite direction: the Florentine towards Siena, the Sienese towards Florence. At the exact point where the two would meet, it would be sealed the border. In order to anticipate the opponent and conquer more territory, it was better to leave as soon as possible and then they needed a reliable cock, ready to sing at dawn.
The Florentines entrusted to a hungry and free-range black rooster, intentionally kept fasting. The Sienese, instead, chose a tame white rooster which was, above all, satisfied by a hearty evening meal. The choice of the Florentines was successful: the knight from Florence was able to leave earlier than the Sienese, covering more kilometers and annexing a larger portion of the territory.
Castellina in Chianti, is located atop a hill at the crossroads of the Arbia, Elsa and Pesa valleys, along the Chiantigiana road that still connects Florence to Siena. It's a small town but is one of the most important destinations in the Chianti area and the landscape that surrounds the town is impressive. We suggest you to stop here for a walk or for a lunch: in winter is really quiet and there are few people, usually locals, in summer is full of tourist that enjoy the Chianti lifestyle.
What to see in Castellina in Chianti
The Rocca (castle), a massive building that stands on the main square with a fourteenth-century crenellated tower. From the top of the tower you can admire the beautiful landscape that surrounds Castellina.
The Church of San Salvatore, with an early 15th-century fresco of Madonna with Child and a polychrome wooden statue of Christ from the same age.
There are some beautiful palaces, such as the Palazzo Ugolini-Squarcialupi and the Palazzo Bianciardi. Don't miss the Via delle Volte: this underground tunnel was used by the guards to protect the town, now offers shops and restaurants.
The archeological museum of Chianti: the Museum is hosted in the Rocca and it's open dailyin April, May, September, October from 10am to 6pm and in June, July and August it is open every day from 11am till 7pm. From November 1 to March 31 is open just in the weekend from 10am to 5pm. There are special openings on the following holidays: November 1, December 8, 26 December January 6 and Easter Monday. The ticket is around €5, free admission for children up to 6 years.
Montecalvario Mound: just outside Castellina in Chianti, on the highway 222, there's this famous monument Etruscan: a tomb mound of large diameter of 50 meters, consists of four underground tombs date from the seventh-sixth century BC arranged according to the cardinal points.
Poggino necropolis: it is an Etruscan cemetery near Fonterutoli, near Castellina in Chianti. The cemetery is located on a hill that was used by an Etruscan community who lived in the area since the end of the seventh century BC until the fifth century BC.
Events in Castellina in Chianti
• The weekly market takes place every Saturday from 8am till 1pm• The Pentecost in Castellina held on a weekend in May/June: the “Pentecoste a Castellina”, is one of the historical events of the Black Rooster brand, a chance to taste not only the excellent wines of the Chianti Classico but also the lifestyle behind its identity. This event brings together wine enthusiasts and tourists from around the world.
• The fair of the watermelon on August 24 (known as "La Fiera del Cocomero"): this is the most important festival of Castellina in Chianti has its origins in the post-war period and takes a fair peasant that took place in the medieval village. The old town of Castellina in Chianti is transformed into a large market, where to buy local products, antiques and crafts from the morning until the evening. The fair offers food stalls, live music and dancing in the Town Square.
•"Chianti d'Autunno", from October to December: Chianti in Autumn is an event promoted by the eight municipalities of the Chianti area that aim at promoting the valley and its products of excellence. It's held from October till the beginning of Decemeber and offers a wide calendar of cultural and gastronomic events, such as wine tastings, conferences, exhibitions, shows and markets, which invites visitors to learn about the history and traditions, to taste the typical products and to enjoy the beauty of this territory.
How to reach Castellina in Chianti
The best way to reach Castellina in Chianti is by car. There is also a bus from Siena to Greve in Chianti and Florence that leaves early in the morning.