HISTORY OF THE CHIANTI REGION


CHIANTI is a name that resounds in restaurants all over the world where good wines are served. The place name is given to a piece of land characterised by a harmonious landscape whose hills veil and unveil evocative places, where peace reigns supreme.
The ORIGIN of the word “Chianti” is up for discussion. It can be attributed to the Etruscan term “clante” common name given to a person in that language, or to the Latin verb “clango”, sound the trumpets and play the horns, probably referring to the beginning of the hunt. It’s also quite difficult to reconstruct the HISTORY of this region. For documents that can be found are fragmentary, what follows therefore is an attempt to explain its history to those who already known the region and to those who would like to know
In medieval times, Chianti endured conquests by Florence and Siena. Today , it suffers another kind of conquest that one of the tourists foreign and not, who come here in pursuit of that something extra offered by Chianti as it done over the centuries.
This region is from time immemorial well-loved and populated region. The most ancient testimony of the man’s presence can be found in Poggio La Croce, near Radda in Chianti, around the second century BC. In this same place, there can also be found testimonies to the transhuman shepherds presence during the 11th century BC and of the ETRUSCANS during the 3rd century BC. Due to its favourable climate, its position and its soil’s richness Etruscans decided to settle in the region, taking advantage of its soil and establishing settlements. Their presence has been proved not only by many archaeological finds but also by the evident etymology of the Chianti place names such as Rosennano, Avane, Nusenna and by the local toponymy of family names which end in –na, such as Olena and Ruffenna.
The ROMANS also settled in the Chianti, but we have only a few testimonies of their presence. The ruins of an Etruscan necropolis between the 2nd-3rd century A.C. (near Cacchiano), prove that after the Etruscans came the Romans. We know for example that the Romans divided the region into the municipia of Faesulae and of Arretium (also later of Saena Julia). The toponymy help to confirm, what we have already said, the name of many places
ending with –ano or –ana are typical of the imperial age, when the public treasury gave the place the name of the owner, consequently turned into an adjective (Bibbiano, Panzano, Cacchiano). Also if the documents are few, we can affirm with R. Flower that “in the hills and valleys of Chianti, (…) the country life went on as it always had done, but in the place of the fine Roman country house, with their well cultivated estates, the watch-towers and castles of the Lombard barons sprang up at strategic defensive points (…). The landscape of Chianti was surely then characterised (…) by a perennial freshness, a perpetual springtime (…). For if the period between 400 and 700 A.D. was one of the waste and depopulation, it was also a time of self-sufficiency.
And it is not difficult to believe that the air of remote rusticity (…) was always present.”
The next information we have about this region is from the 715 relates to a boundaries’ dispute between Arezzo and Siena. The decision of the Lombards’ King Liutprando to give some areas to the bishop of Arezzo was changed later because of the Sienese, until 500 years later Arezzo’s supremacy was recognized in this area.
MARCA DI TUSCIA” (Marquises of Tuscany), a new territorial identity that took the place of the old organisation. The marquises were formally faithful to the Emperor or to the King of Italy, but the Tuscia became an independent state and in this period is interesting to note the diffusion of viticulture in the religious Orders. To note that the region’s economy was florid as can be evidence proven by the various commercial contracts stipulated. The origin of the long war between Florence and Siena can be found in the special status of Florence, which comprised not one but two dioceses. As the Chianti region was under the spiritual guidance of Fiesole’s diocese, the Florentines thought that their sovereign right was extended over the borders with Siena’s and Fiesole’s dioceses. The Sienese were naturally worried about this situation, because the enemies were very close to the city’s gates. The first battle was in 1082, when the Florentines accused the Sienese of having collaborating with the Emperor Henry IV during the Florence’s siege. The first treaty between Florence and Siena was stupid, but as we known, in the 1103 the