In the area known as the Alta Valdera just south of Pisa, lies the wonderfully secluded hamlet of Chianni.
All About Chianni
Chianni is the quintessential village that comes to mind when we imagine Tuscany: winding road after winding road meandering through lush green hills dotted with cypress trees and the occasional farmhouse. In this area, there are only four major towns and Chianni is one of them with under 1,500 people, and most of them over 50. The little elementary school is so small that this year’s first-grade class only has 4 students.
If it sounds like paradise on Earth so far, you’re not alone: Chianni has become a holiday destination for visitors from all parts of the world who want to get away from the stress of their routine and to be in closer contact with nature. In fact, the farmhouse holiday business, known as agriturismo, is booming. Vacationers want a different kind of holiday experience: one that allows them to connect with the surrounding area and the local people.
It’s common for visitors to come here by car with their bikes in tow so they can explore the hills and the surrounding area in total freedom on the various trails. Hiking is also a favorite as many of the trails lead to waterfalls and total relaxation. The excellent location also makes for easy day trips to nearby Florence, Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Luca, and Livorno (all within a 1-hour drive). Even closer are the lovely towns of Lajatico (birthplace of Andrea Bocelli), Casciana Terme, Peccioli, and Terricciola.
Its tiny historic center‘s main attraction, aside from the charm of its stone-covered houses and shops, is the Church of San Donato. Although the area was most certainly inhabited by the Etruscans, most of the first records of Chianni date back to the 13th century. The church was completely renovated in 1812, but its origins date back to 1277. It’s a single nave with four chapels and its altar dates to the late 1500s. You can also see the Holy Family by Giovanni Battista Tempesti (who painted the Music Hall in the Pitti Palace as well as the Last Supper in the Duomo in Pisa).
And while you’re strolling through the cobblestone streets, you’ll want to sample the local products. The area is famous for its chestnuts, especially from the nearby hamlet of Rivalto, which are harvested every fall and used in all kinds of recipes from sweets to savory pasta dishes. Where there are chestnuts, there are also wild boars and Chianni is no exception. This delicious meat is used in stews as well as in pasta sauces. It is so popular that every November, there is a festival dedicated entirely to specialties made from it.
Let’s not forget the prized olive oil as well as wine. The famous Strade del Vino delle Colline Pisane runs right through this area which produces delicious reds like the Chianti delle Colline Pisane DOCG just to name one.
Chianni, the Exception
After reading all of this, is it any wonder that living in Chianni is good for your health? In town, there is a 97-year-old pharmacist who has been practicing in Chianni since 1950, who was recently featured in the news and is quoted as saying, “We have to keep our minds active because that’s our engine. If we sit down in our recliner then it’s over.” Could it be the fresh air? The healthy food? The wine and olive oil? Or, maybe it’s just the perfect combination of all of the above.
For your overnight stay, we recommend…
right here in chianni