Greve in Chianti is often considered the entrance gate into the Chianti region since it is the first major town you reach as you head south of Florence toward Siena. It is located along the SR222 provincial road, locally known as the Chiantigiana road, at about 30 km south of Florence and 40 km north of Siena.
We recommend visiting Greve for various reasons. It is a small town, not lying at the top of a hill but its interestingly shaped main square is the perfect location from which to wander around, enjoy an espresso, gelato cone or wine glass on a stop here on your trip through Chianti. What is there to see in Greve? Let's start from its history to understand what we see today.
Greve's history is connected to the beautiful Castle of Montefioralle located above the town - Greve was the castle's marketplace starting in the 13th century (we also highly recommend visiting what remains today of the small medievall village of Monterfioralle while you're here). Greve's strategic position at the crossroads of three important pilgrimage roads - the Chiantigiana road, the road to Valdarno and the road to Val di Pesa - favored its economic growth. At the beginning of the 1500s, the particularly shaped square was already there and was later described by the Grand Duke Leopold I as "a beautiful square where every Saturday a big market of livestock and foodstuff takes place". That market is still taking place every Saturday even today!
The Main Square
Piazza Matteotti is the main piazza in Greve and even if it isn't "square", it is still the focal point of the town. A small town with a few museums and monuments to visit, Greve still offers a chance to enjoy a relaxing walk in and around the main square as well as a supermarket (Coop along the SS222 that cross the town) for anyone staying in an apartment in the surroundings. Furthermore, it's very lively with regular events, including food and wine festivals where music and markets intermingle all year round even if they are concentrated in the summer and early fall. We suggest you stop at the tourist information office near the city hall on the main square to ask for an events calendar for Greve and the area.
Every Saturday morning the weekly market still takes place on this same square. What makes the square particular, apart from its strange shape, is the portico on three sides of the square. The portico continues to serve as the frame for artisan shops, workshops and restaurants selling local products.
Some of these shops are famous so make sure to stop by: one of these is the Antica Macelleria Falorni, a Tuscan butcher shop that has been in the same spot since 1729, and another is the Bottega dell'Artigianato, a shop specialized in hand-woven baskets and products made in olive wood. Also located on the square is the Palazzo del Comune, the city hall built in neo-Renaissance style on the site of the ancient Renaissance building. In the square near city hall is the large statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, famous explorer that discovered the Hudson Bay in New York and who was born just a few kilometers to the north of Greve. (You'll see the Castello da Verrazzano along the Chiantigiana road before reaching Greve if you're headed south from Florence - great stop for wine tastings!)
Churches and Museums
On the opposite end of the square is the Santa Croce Church with a neo-classic facade. Built on the site of a medieval church, it still displays several masterpieces from churches in the local surroundings. Among the most important works is the 14th century fresco depicting the Virgin Mary with Child and a triptych by Lorenzo di Bicci (from about 1420).
A few steps from the square is the Museum of Sacred Art set in the former hospital of St.Francis. Here visitors can admire the original altar of the annexed oratory, characterized by a splendid group of sculptures in colored terracotta. Other important works include a 14th century Annunciation from Santa Croce Church, a Virgin Mary with Child between St. Bartholomew and St. Francis from the church of Santa Maria a Cintoia and a Virgin Mary with child between St. Anthony and St. Lucy from the church of Sezzate.
Another interesting museum any wine lover should stop at is the Wine Museum which offers wine tastings of over 200 different labels from the area. Each wine has detailed descriptions, from its production to the tasting notes. In addition, there are many old farm machines on display, as well as 180 different corkscrews.
Where to Eat
There are several bars (coffee shops), wineshops, restaurants and pizzerias in the main square and in the small streets around the main square. Perfect place for an afternoon stop, lunch or dinner in the heart of Chianti - some of the ones to look for include: Osteria Mangiando Mangiando, Pizza e Bottega (pizza by the slice as well as take out and delivery), Bottega del Moro, Pizzeria La Cantina and Enoteca/Trattoria Gallo Nero (these last three are along the SS222 in the town).
Don't Miss Montefioralle
As mentioned above, make sure to visit to the beautiful Montefioralle, the small fortified village located on a hill above Greve less than a mile away from Greve's main square. Here the famous explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born; the ancestral home is located along the main street, its only distinguishing mark is the family's coat of arms with a wasp above its doorway - see if you can find it!
How to reach Greve
The easiest way to move around the entire region is by car, and one of the most scenic roads to take is the Via Chiantigiana from Florence all the way to Siena.
If you don't have a car, Greve is luckily one of the easiest towns in Chianti to reach from Florence. You just need to catch bus 365 from the SMN train station. Most of the buses stop in Greve, some continue on to Panzano... from Panzano there are other connections to Castellina and Radda as well, but on a different bus. Read our article on moving around Chianti for more details.