Torn Between Florence and Siena
Historically, Panzano has found itself battered repeatedly. Located almost directly in the middle of the constantly feuding powers of Siena and Florence, it was destroyed in 1260 and again in 1397 and then again in the 1400’s and 1500’s when it changed hands back and forth between Florence and Siena. What remains of the original medieval center is now incorporated in the bell tower of the church in the Panzano Alto.
Create a Chianti Itinerary
A circular route starting from Florence could easily include:
Impruneta, Greve in Chianti, Panzano, Castellina, Poggibonsi, and back to Florence
Driving Time: 2 hours and 35 minutes (not including stops)
A circular route starting from Siena could easily include:
Poggibonsi, Castellina, Panzano, Radda, Gaiole, Castelnuovo Berardenga and back to Siena
Driving Time: 2 hours and 42 minutes (not including stops)
The Church of Santa Maria was rebuilt in the 19th century on top of the medieval building and boasts a suggestive stone stairway (which is an excellent setting for photos) and incorporates what was once a tower for the long destroyed castle. As you walk the silent streets, you are truly immersed in another time. Follow the paved road that joins the two parts of the city you an will find many little shops that exhibit artwork and local artisans.
A City Divided in Two
Panzano has two different ways to enter and explore the city. The first is most evident when you are coming from Florence or Greve in Chianti, because though you can see the historic part of the city, your first close glimpse is of the modern square Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli and the small shops and restaurants that border the little streets.
The main square has become the home to several outdoor restaurants and cafes, where you can enjoy the small town atmosphere with a tasty little treat. If you are looking for something a bit more “substantial,” then you might want to head towards Macelleria Cecchini, where 8 generations of butchers have dazzled the locals and tourists alike with a bit of fanfare and delicious meats.
The alternative entrance into the hamlet is from the free public parking lot and you enter directly into the historic center, which still maintains quaint little streets and typical architecture from the medieval era. A good portion of the original walls are still evident, even if in poor condition but they are a picturesque walk and offer fantastic views of the surrounding countryside. The walls are lined with several excellent restaurant, all of which promise not only a tantalizing menu but fantastic views of the Chianti hills and vineyards.
Close to Panzano you will find the parish church Pieve di San Leolino from the 11th century is just about a km from the town of Panzano, and it is said to bet top examples of Romanesque architecture in Chianti. Though it has been restored several times the interior of the church is an interesting stop with it arched columns and artwork including a sculpture of from early Middle Ages which is preserved in the church.
Plan your trip Wisely
If you are already in Chianti and want make your stop here extra special, then try coordinating it with one of these events:
Every Sunday until 1 pm you will find the outdoor market set up where you can shop for flowers & plants, vegetables, cheese, fruit, roasted chicken, shoes, clothes and kitchen gadgets.
On April 25th, an Italian national holiday, they have the Festa di Buona Stagione, which is almost like a celebration of the start of spring (the so called “good season”) They organize a small fair and a procession with the locals dressed in period customs.
On the third weekend of September, you can visit the town square for wine tasting at Vino al Vino, where the local Panzano producers display...and more importantly offer tastes of, their production.
How to get to Panzano & where to park
Coming from Florence (or the FI-SUD exit on the Autostrada), simply follow the Chiantigiana (SR 222) road as it winds around Grassina, Strada in Chianti and Greve. The panoramic road is approximately 7km until you reach the picturesque square (Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli) at the center of the hamlet. If you proceed another km and turn right at the SP 118 (also known as Via della Conca d’’Oro) you will find ample public parking and easy access to the historic walled part of the town.
Coming up from Siena, pick up the SR222 and follow the signs for Castellina in Chianti and then Greve. The Via della Conca d’Oro is on the left and will be indicated with blue parking signs. This parking lot leads you directly into the historic center and keeps you from walking on any busy roads. You can park closer to Piazza Gastone Bucciarelli however, parking is limited and many times you are forced to park further away from the city center. Panzano is also easily reached via public transport, it is the same bus that goes to Greve in Chianti, and can be picked up at the main bus station next to the Firenze SMN train station, bus number 365.