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Radda in Chianti is a beautiful medieval town enclosed in large defensive walls. Located up on a hill between the valleys of Arbia and Pesa, it has ancient origins. It has been inhabited since the 9th century and was already mentioned in a document from 1002.
Under Florentine control, Radda was the headquarters of the Chianti League and the seat of the Florentine governor housed in the beautiful 15th century Palazzo del Podestà, its facade decorated with several coats of arms. The town maintains its medieval look characterized by narrow streets meeting in the main square where you'll find the Church of San Niccolò, a church of Romanesque origins which displays a venerated wooden Crucifix from the 15th century.
Not far from this square is the Grand Duke's Ice house, built at the end of the 19th century to preserve snow and turn it into ice. The Museum of Sacred Art of Chianti deserves a visit. Set in the Franciscan Convent of Santa Maria in Prato, it displays several works of art from the Chianti region, including a valuable polyptich by Neri di Bicci (1474) depicting the Virgin Mary with child and saints.
In the surroundings of Radda you'll find many castles and parish churches, such as the medievalCastle of Volpaia and the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria in Prato with beautiful flowered capitals in the Romanesque style.
Today, Radda in Chianti and its surroundings are famous destinations for relaxing holidays in Tuscany. Several restaurants and wine shops in town offer excellent Tuscan dishes and the opportunity to taste the Chianti Classico DOC produced in the area. A quick stop at the tourism office within Radda will help you find the nearest winery open for tastings on the particular day you visit.
How to reach Radda
The best way to get around the entire Chianti area is by car. Trains do NOT cross Chianti, although they do go around the perimeter (practically circumvent the area by heading south from Empoli to Poggibonsi and then on to Siena, the east toward Arezzo/Chiusi).
There are a few buses that reach Radda from Florence and from Siena but as you can see below, service is limited. The main line from Florence to Radda is #365 (click here to view the entire bus timetable).
Buy tickets before boarding, cost is 4 euro from/to Florence and 4,20 euro from/to Siena per person, each way. From Siena, there are no buses on Sundays or holidays. From Florence, there is 1 on Sundays only from Radda to Florence.
Sights in Radda
Palazzo del Podesta: Radda's town hall (aka Palazzo Comunale), in the middle of town, was built in the second half of the 14th century and has served the same function ever since. Fifty-one coats of arms (the largest is the Medici's) are imbedded in the facade, representing the past governors of the town, but unless you have official business, the building is closed to the public.
This tiny town, with a population of roughly 50, is perched on a hill 10 km (6 mi) north of Radda. During the wars between Florence and Siena it served as a key castle and military outpost, but lost its importance when the Florentines defeated Siena in 1555. Approximately three-quarters of the town are now given over to the production of wine and olive oil.
Castello di Volpaia. At this small enoteca on Piazza della Cisterna you can sample and purchase the fine wines, olive oil, and flavored vinegars made by Castello di Volpaia. Booked in advance, tours in English of the winery and olive press are also available. www.volpaia.it.