We travel to Panzano—a small and ancient Italian village not far from our apartment. We take the S222 or “Chiantigiana”, which runs through the middle of town. Panzano is around thirty miles from Florence to the north and Siena to the south. It’s also where you’ll find Dario Cecchini, the world famous “Butcher of Tuscany.” His shop, Antica Macelleria Cecchini, is just a short walk up a slight hill from the S222.
We have been in awe of Dario, the Maestro, since our first visit to his shop in the late 1990’s. We admire his love of tradition, his passion for the old ways, and his intensity. Dario and his beautiful wife-to-be, Kim, hold court daily (except Wednesdays—the Macelleria is closed then), meeting and greeting customers, celebrities, friends and the hundreds of tourists who want a glimpse of him and want the chance to share and be a part of the festive celebration of his art.
Wielding his knives with utter precision, he prepares orders for customers to pick up and food for his three restaurants—Solociccia, Officina della Bistecca, and Mac Dario. He is the Maestro, the ultimate showman. He can often be heard reciting Dante and even singing rock or opera. His love for his craft and passion for tradition are at the heart of everything he does. He was taught his art by his father, who was in turn, taught by his father: three generations at the same Macelleria.
From Dario’s shop, we continue up the hill and make our way to Lamole. The road is rough—dirt and gravel - but the countryside is filled with olive trees and family vineyards. Many are hundreds of years old. After a mile or so the road narrows, pavement returns, and winding curves lead us to the tiny village of Lamole. We are here to experience the most incredible views in Chianti and eat at the Ristoro di Lamole. The view from the terrace of the Ristoro is breathtaking! Chianti hills, San Gimignano, Vignamaggio (Mona Lisa was born there),wonderful Cyprus trees, vines laden with grapes, olive trees, and forests abound. The owners, Filippo and Paolo, are masters, choosing true Artisanal products for their Ristoro and Enoteca. They select superb Tuscan wines to go with their authentic specialties.
We fall in love with the food, the wine, the view, and the truffle honey. During one visit, Filippo introduced us to the most exquisite truffle honey we have ever tasted. He served it with their juniper-smoked Guanciale (cured pig cheeks), aged Pecorino and simple bruschetta. We simply couldn’t get enough.
We leave Lamole and drive down the winding road to Greve in Chianti – a wonderful little town with a small central piazza, Piazzo Del Mercato. We always go to Saturday market there. Fresh cheeses and produce share space with plants, leather goods and fresh salumis. On one side of the Piazza is a wonderful shop filled with porcelains, pastas, oils,vinegars, honeys, wines and gifts. We like to buy olive oils and vinegars there, and we always find new treasures. We tried an extra virgin olive oil there a few years agoand fell in love with it.