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Since the end of the fourteenth century, when for the first time the name “Chianti” appears in an official document, that territory so beautiful it seems painted, included exactly halfway between Siena, the medieval city par excellence, and Florence, the cradle of the Italian Renaissance, it really starts to appear in the paintings. The greatest artists of the Renaissance choose it as a background, from Botticelli to Donatello, from Michelangelo to Leonardo, up to Vasari who depicts him in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Today that Chianti Classico is among the most famous Italian wines, it is still the most important artists in the world who make it a real district not only of wine, but also of international art. An “avant-garde” territory, where the partnership between wine and art is one of the most long-lived and successful examples, thanks to wineries that continue the ancient tradition of cultural patronage and to places, often unexpected, that become exhibition spaces hosting the works that the most famous artists create in situ. From Castello di Ama for Contemporary Art to Nittardi with its labels-works of art, from the Chianti Sculpture Park to Pievasciata BAC Borgo d’Arte Contemporanea, from Cantina Antinori in Chianti Classico to the “Le Radici dell’Arte” project of Tenuta Casenuovi, to name just a few examples. The result, for wine lovers as well as for art lovers from all over the world, is truly exceptional.
After all, the first “work of art” is the Chianti Classico itself, as a territory, officially and pioneeringly recognized at the beginning of the eighteenth century by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III with the delimitation of the boundaries of the already famous production area of ​​”Chianti wine”, and as a wine, of course, whose fame went so far beyond those boundaries, as to push the “Iron Baron” Bettino Ricasoli to fix forever the “perfect formula” of its quality in the second half of the nineteenth century. With the appellative of “Classico” which, added in the twentieth century to distinguish it from other wines, can only make us think of a style that unites oenological and artistic production, and where nature is an inexhaustible source of inspiration for man.
A territory-icon of the Italian landscape, dotted with convents, churches, castles, villas and estates, such as Villa Vignamaggio which belonged to the family of Monna Lisa, “La Gioconda”, and where Francesco Redi composed “The Bacchus in Tuscany”, or the Antica Fattoria Machiavelli where Niccolò Machiavelli wrote “The Prince”, from the Badia a Passignano, which houses the masterpiece of “The Last Supper” by Ghirlandaio, at the Renaissance Villa Le Corti by the architect Santi di Tito, from the Castle of Fonterutoli, the background of the legend of the Black Rooster and of the “singular battle” between Florence and Siena for the domination of the territory, to the Castle of Brolio of the “Iron Baron”, all “Italian Historic Houses” which are a monument of Italy.
A territory capable of maintaining such an important heritage without renouncing innovation and contemporaneity. And perhaps it is also for this reason that, from unsuspecting times, the greatest international artists have elected him to one of the most important sites of site-specific works and installations in the world. From Ama Castle for Contemporary Art, which, since 1999, thanks to Marco Pallanti and Lorenza Sebasti, owners of one of the most important Italian wineries and passionate collectors, collects works conceived in dialogue with the spirit of the place by artists such as Michelangelo Pistoletto, Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Daniel Buren , Kendell Geers, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lee Ufan and Roni Horn, just to name a few, in a constantly enriching collection, among the first examples of its kind in Italy and today among the most important in the world. And that, always with an eye to the future, in 2021 is ready to inaugurate a new work by the American Jenny Holzer (and a “new home” for historic bottles). Since 1981, however, one of the most historic Italian associations between wine and art wanted by Nittardi for his most precious cru, Nittardi Vigna Doghessa’s Chianti Classico Casanuova, has brought over 60 works by great international artists to the bottle, from Emilio Tadini to Valerio Adami, from Friedensreich Hundertwasser to Eduardo Arroyo, from Mimmo Paladino to Yoko Ono, from Tomi Ungerer to Günter Grass, from Pierre Alechinsky to Dario Fo, from Corneille to Igor Mitoraj, from Kim Tschang Yeul to Allen Jones and Mikis Theodorakis, among others, up to the last, unveiled at the beginning of the year: a Bacchus crowned with olive leaves handing a glass of wine to the Sibyl of the German artist Johannes Heisig. A collection housed next to the Sculpture Garden, against the backdrop of an estate now owned by Peter Femfert, Stefania Canali and their son Léon Femfert, belonged with its vineyards to one of the greatest geniuses of world art: Michelangelo.
Instead, it arises from the public-private encounter Pievasciata BAC Borgo d’Arte Contemporanea, which since 2012 has 11 works by Italian and international artists in the small village of Chianti Classico, thanks to the collaboration between institutions, the inhabitants and the Borgo Scopeto, Casuccio Tarletti and Tolaini wineries. And this is why an important aspect of the project is the revaluation of some previously abandoned urban spaces that have regained their old charm with a contemporary accent. A project born alongside the Chianti Sculpture Park, the permanent exhibition of contemporary installations and sculptures in which art and nature are integrated in a wood. And wine and art form a perfect union also to Casenuov estate where Philippe Austruy, French entrepreneur passionate about art, architecture and wines, in collaboration with the Galleria Continua in San Gimignano, in 2020 gave life to the project “The Roots of Art”, with the first permanent installation by Pascale Marthine Tayou and the works exhibited in space “The Wine of Art” in Panzano, inviting the artists every year to create works in situ, such as “Teenager teenager”, the other installation by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu with men and women dressed in Salvatore Ferragamo clothes in the Sala delle Vault of the Estate.
Without forgetting the wineries signed by the most famous architects, such as Antinori in the Chianti Classico, where the “circle” that from the Renaissance leads to the present day closes in the long history of the Antinori family’s commissioning of works of art, from the ancient Palazzo Antinori in Florence designed by the Medici architect Giuliano da Maiano to the project of the archistar Marco Casamonti which celebrates the centuries-old bond with the Chianti Classico area.
Even the rethinking of spaces as a consequence of the pandemic, once again, makes Chianti Classico a model in the enjoyment of art: an “open-air” museum where distances are natural and in which “widespread” works, the landscape and the ancient and modern monumental buildings are the subjects of a single “overall picture” that depicts all the beauty of the Italian cultural heritage and its link with wine. And to sanction all this definitively, it can only be the recognition of the Chianti Classico area as a World Heritage Site by Unesco.

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Marco Ribaudo

Marco Ribaudo

For the love of food and wine! Marco Ribaudo, Certified Sommelier, with 25 years in the food and beverage industry now invites you to join him in his latest adventure, the opening of la Cucina del Vino to share his culture and passion for creating unforgettable memories around the table.

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