Greve in Chianti, it is named for the small, fast-flowing river that runs through it, is the principal town in the Chianti wine district which stretches south of Florence to just north of Siena. Until recently it has been a quiet, almost bucolic town because it was, and still is, well off the main roads. The site of Greve in Chianti and the surrounding territory has been long settled, probably well before the Etruscans and then the Romans dominated the area. Historical documents of the 11th century refer to an ancient monastic settlement on a nearby hill, which is now called the hill of San Francesco.
The piazza is fronted by numerous medieval aged buildings, including the 11th century Chiesa Santa Croce which was rebuilt in 1325 after being burned to the ground, along with the rest of the town, by the Duke of Lucca, Castruccio Castracani. After further renovation, the church, which houses paintings of the school of Fra Angelico, now features a neo-classical façade. In the piazza there is also a monument to navigator Giovanni da Verrazzano, who was possibly born nearby, however more recent scholarly work places his birth at Lyon France.
With the enlargement of the Chianti wine district in 1932, Greve suddenly found itself in a noble wine area. The Chianti region supports a variety of agricultural activities, most especially the growing of the grapes that go into the world-famous Chianti and “Super Tuscan” wines. Olive oil production is another staple of the local economy. Extra virgin Tuscan olive oil is highly prized for its delicate flavor, as opposed to the stronger, thicker olive oils of the south. Truffle harvesting is a distinguishing feature of local food production. Both black and white truffles are hunted in Chianti. The region is also noted for its meat. The Cinta Senese pig is unique to this region and produces pork of superior quality. Wild game is a common feature on local menus, including rabbit, pigeon, venison, and, especially, cinghiale (wild boar). Greve is home to one of Italy’s oldest and most renowned butcher shops, the Macelleria Falorni.
Chianti Classico wine festival – every year on second weekend of September and the preceding Thursday and Friday, 5 – 8th Sept 2013. On Thursday, the festival starts at about 5 pm, and on Saturday and Sunday at about 11 am and the stands close at about 8 pm. Local merchants display their products, and wine tasting is offered for free. The visitor must purchase a glass, (10€ for the 2012 festival) then go to the displays. Olive oil is also available for tasting, served on fresh sliced Italian bread. Local cheeses are also available.