It would be hard to imagine a trip to Italy without taking advantage of the amazing selection of wine that the country has to offer. Luckily this is made a little easier by the many Italian wine bars, or enotecas. Here you can sample a variety of wines without having to eat a full meal and in some cases, if you prefer, you can enjoy a glass without ever even having to sit down. This is a convenience worth taking advantage of. A few places that seemed particularly enticing can be found in the capital city of the Tuscan region, Florence.
1. Cantinetta del Verrazzano boasts the ownership of arguably one of Chianti’s best-known wine-producing estates. It’s hard to imagine how one could go wrong sampling a full-bodied red wine such as Chianti here. Inside you will find a charmingly antiquated design of authentic wood paneling. This, along with a giant wood fired pizza oven fitted into the back wall, provides warmth to an already pleasant atmosphere. The quality of wine offered is only matched by the food. Patrons here have the option to sample items from the bakery along with their wine choices. Chianti is a wine meant to be enjoyed with food. All the more reason to indulge and order a piece of freshly baked zucchini flower focaccia while sipping a glass filled with truly authentic Chianti.
Cantinetta del Verrazzano
Via dei Tavolini 18-20r.
2. Cantinetta Antinori is truly fit for a king. It can be found inside a 15th century palazzo in Florence on the left bank. It has held residence there for some thirty years, surely a testament to its popularity. While reservations are usually necessary it is well worth the extra few minutes it takes to plan ahead because it would be impossible to only order a simple side dish. The dishes offered seem to rival the expansive selection of Tuscan wines. When ordering something such as bistecca fiorentina you can be sure all ingredients used are grown on actual Antinori farms. The servers here boast being able to speak almost all languages, so no need to worry if your Italian is a little rusty. This will certainly not get in the way of enjoying the fine wines and dishes offered.
3 Palazzo Antinori
3. Gianni Migliorini’s Casa del Vino, while not located inside an ancient castle holds a somewhat historic title. It is the oldest winery in the city and you can find it behind the open air market on Via dell’Ariento. Here you can grab a small bite of bruschette or even sample the family olive oil made in Tavernelle. This seems to be all that is necessary for his expansive collection of fine wines outshines any dining menu. It also lends him the title of having one of the best wine cellars in Florence, which is as popular with locals as it is tourists. Along with sampling a variety of wines here you might find yourself discovering your inner Hemingway while examining their collection of rare cognacs. This is a collection that is specifically unique to them and certainly makes it worth a visit.
Casa del Vino
Via dell’Ariento, 16r.
4. Pitti Gola e Cantina is a much more recent addition to the Florentine wine bar landscape. To some it could be considered a virtual wine museum. Inside patrons can view a beautiful structure which holds a large variety of wine. Bottles here serve as both their fare and decoration as they line the walls. You will find yourself surrounded with both possibilities for your wine selections and a colorful almost enchanting atmosphere. Along with this stunning inside view you can look out upon the street and enjoy views of the Pitti Palace. Though an order of authentic Italian white, red, and dessert wine can get a little pricey, it is not too upscale. You will find the bar formal, but welcoming. Finally any dining experience here is rounded out by the friendliness of the servers.
Pitti Gola e Cantina
Piazza de’ Pitti, 16r.
5. The oldest option, which has been open since 1875, removes the necessity of servers altogether. Here tucked away behind Piazza Signoria you will find I Fratellini, which roughly translated means, the “younger brothers”. Only Tuscan wines are served across what is literally simply a bar. It is fit snuggly inside the doorjamb of a cellar. Charming in its evident simplicity, here you can find an affordable drink while never having to set foot inside. This is a rare convenience as it is one of only a few of its kind left in the city. This would certainly serve as a welcome site for travelers weary after a long day of walking through Florentine piazzas in search of the perfect glass of wine.
Via de’ Cimatori, 38/r.
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