We have been to Greve, in Chianti. That is where we do our grocery shopping. It is small, but has a town square and 76 restaurants. The population of Greve in Chianti is 15,000. In the town square, which is actually triangular, there is a statute of Verranzano in one corner.
In the other corner, there is a statute that gives new meaning to the word “mooning”.
Almost every night, when we go into Greve in Chianti to buy gelato, a rich creamy ice cream which Italy is famous for, we found an operatic performance being done on the steps of St. Croce church at one end of the town square. I think every resident of Greve in Chianti was present for the outdoor, free performance, which we thought was lovely, but solely in Italian.
Gelato is a soft ice cream made up of at least 3.5% butterfat.
The photo above of the Italian woman dressing will give you some idea of the effect that gelato has on the human form!
Shopping has been a challenge. The one grocery store is not as large as what we were used to in France. All the brands have changed as well as the way the Italians eat compared to the French. And, of course, we have to shop with an Italian dictionary since neither of us “speak” ANY Italian except for ordering gelato. First impression is that the Italians are not bread lovers like the French. The breads are limited, tasteless and hard. The bread is tasteless because it has no salt. It has no salt because the Italians consider bread to be an accompaniment to salty food like salami, pesto and lardon. The Italians even call their bread pane sciocco, which means “stupid bread”. In addition to the bread being tasteless, it can only be eaten within hours of baking or it turns as hard as stone.
Secondly, the Italians eat a lot of cold, but cooked, vegetables like eggplant, artichokes, red and green peppers. We have also not found simple things like garlic salt, crushed dry basil and mozzarella cheese.
We understand that the Italians use the grocery store for their basic staples. Anything worth eating is purchased from the bakery, butcher shop or fish-monger. Since we have only been here a week, we have not located these specialty stores. It takes us awhile because of the language. Bakery is “panificio”; butcher shop is “macelleria” and fish-monger is “pescivendolo”.
We have been on one road trip since our arrival. Chianti is known for Chianti Wine. Chianti wine dates back to at least 1716. Chianti wine must contain at least 70% Sangiovese grapes. They are mostly red wines. So, we took a tour of some red wine vineyards and visited Panzano, Radda, Gaiole, Castelnuovo Berardeng, and Castillina in Chianti. It sounds like a lot of driving, but all these towns are quite close to each other usually within 10 to 15 miles. We tried red and rose wine at Castello di Radda a vineyard that just completed a $35 million expansion project near Radda. We also tasted, and bought some white and red wine, from the Volpaia Vineyards near Radda. There are hundreds of wineries and olive oil farms located in Chianti. No matter how long we are here, we would never be able to visit them all.