The entrance gate into Chianti territory
Greve in Chianti is located along the SR222 provincial road, locally known as the Chiantigiana road, about 30 km south of Florence and 40 km north of Siena.
We recommend visiting Greve because it is:
- a small town with a quaint atmosphere
- an active town with many shops and restaurants
- easy to get to (with lots of parking)
- a treasure trove of art, history and great flavors
What should you know about Greve?
Let's start with its history to understand what we see today.
Greve's history is connected to the beautiful Castle of Montefioralle located above the town, when it served as the castle's marketplace in the 13th century. The 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 curious shaped square was already built 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 - minus the livestock, but there are plenty of stalls with fresh fruit and veggies, cheese, olives, household goods, flowers and a bit of fashion!
The Main Square
Why Base Yourself here...
» close to Florence and major roadways
» easy access to public transport
» active small town with restaurants, markets and shops
Piazza Matteotti is the main point of reference in Greve and even if it isn't "square", it is still the focal point of the town. What makes the place particular, apart from its strange shape, is the portico on three sides of the square. The portico continues to serve as the frame for boutique shops, artisans workshops and restaurants.
Some of these shops are particularly famous drawing locals and tourists alike for their quality and diversity of goods: the Antica Macelleria Falorni, a Tuscan butcher shop that has been in the same spot since 1729, and the Bottega dell'Artigianato, a shop specialized in hand-woven baskets and products made in olive wood.
The covered sidewalks on either side are an excellent place to relax and do a bit of people watching, at one of the many restaurants, cafes and enotecas. More shops and enticing restaurants are also located down via Roma and via Garibaldi, at the top and bottom of the square. The beauty of Greve is that it is compact and you can easily visit everywhere by foot.
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 middle of the square, near city hall, stands the large statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano. This famous explorer discovered the Hudson Bay in New York and was born just a few kilometers to the north of Greve. (Perhaps you noticed the Castello da Verrazzano along the Chiantigiana before reaching Greve? If you're headed south from Florence then plan on stopping for wine tastings!)
Churches and Museums
On the opposite end of the square from the government building, 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 church is the Museum of Sacred Art set in the former hospital of St.Francis. Admire the original altar of the annexed oratory, characterized by a splendid group of sculptures in colored terracotta among other important works
Museo di Arte Sacra di San Francesco
Address: Via S. Francesco n. 1 - Greve in Chianti
OPEN: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 4 pm - 7 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am - 1 pm & 4 pm - 7 pm
CLOSED: Monday and Wednesday
Including 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.
Particularly interesting, is the Pieve di San Cresci, hidden in the landscape around Greve.
Another interesting museum any wine lover should stop at is the Wine Museum (which is presently closed for renovation 2015/16) . In addition to a wide selection of wines to taste, there are many old farm machines on display, as well as 180 different corkscrews.
The small fortified village from the early 900’s, is perched on a hill above Greve less than a mile away from the main square. Here the famous explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born; the ancestral home is located along the main street and its only distinguishing mark is the family's coat of arms with a wasp above its doorway - see if you can find it!
You can drive up to the little town, following a road which has many tight curves and panoramic views or you could opt to hike it to the top. A bit steep to be sure, but the 1.5 km trek has its own rewards with the incredible vistas. The town is small but has two restaurants: be sure to check that they are open before you count on eating there. An alternative to a restaurant is prepare a picnic lunch at one of the many little shops in Greve and carry it up with you.
How to reach Greve
The easiest way to move around the entire region is by car. In fact, Chianti is traditionally thought to have one of the most scenic roads in the area: the Via Chiantigiana stretching 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. Catch bus 365 near the Santa Maria Novella (SMN) train station in Florence. 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 you will need to change bus. Read our article on moving around Chianti for more details.
You can occasionally find parking in the main square however, since Greve always seems to have an event going on, your best options for parking (coming from Florence) are to either
- turn left onto via Cesare Battisti and then you will find a large parking lot on via Rosa Libri (on the left)
- or another parking lot on the right at via Luca Cini. Both have easy walkways direct into the town.
Though it is a small town with a few museums and monuments to visit, Greve offers a rather well furnished supermarket (Coop along the SS222 that cross the town) and several wine shops. This is the place to stock up for anyone staying in a villa rental or holiday 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.