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Jun 24, 2011 12:43 PM

Chianti/Siena/San Gimignano Advice

My husband and I will be staying north of Siena this July. After reviewing the recommendations on the board and other sources, I've compiled a list of restaurants and now I need help cutting. Anything we can cut or must try? We're open to casual/fancy and cheap/expensive, as long as it's delicious. Romantic settings are a plus!

Siena (2-3 restaurants, lunch and dinner):
La Torre
Osteria Ill Carroccio
Trattoria Da Gano
Osteria Le Logge
Casato Enoristorante

Chianti (3-4 restaurants, lunch and dinner):
Osteria all Piazza (Castellina)
La Bottega (Volpaia)
Ristorante Vignale (Radda)
Le Vigne (Radda)
the Restaurant at Badia Coltibuono (Gaiole)

San Gimignano/Area (2 restaurants, lunch and dinner):
La Saletta (Certaldo)
Arnolfo (Colle Val D'Elsa)
Al Vecchia Mura (SG)
Ristorante Dorando (SG)

Via XX Settembre, 50, Colle di Val d’Elsa, Tuscany 53034, IT

La Bottega
loc. Volpaia,piazza della Torre,1, Radda in Chianti, Tuscany , IT

vicolo dell'Oro,2, San Gimignano, Tuscany , IT

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  1. We've had extended stays in this broad area--several months in Florence, a week at Vignale in Radda, another week in an apartment in Volpaia (don't miss), and a week in Volterra (consider adding or substituting for San Gim). You've obviously done your research--we eaten at 2/3 of these places (all good choices) and they cover the range from casual/fancy and cheap/expensive.

    In Radda, we stayed and ate at Vignale--this could be one to cut, but don't missed Le Vigne just outside of town.
    In Siena, our first choice was Ill Carroccio followed by Osteria Castelvecchio.
    If you add Volterra, Da Bada is the place to go.

    As you probably been told, the degrees of difference between and among your selections are slight. Just chose, relax, and enjoy!

    1. Agree that Vignale can be cut. Note that some friends from NZ eat at "Le Vigne" (now has another new chef) a few nights ago and they were extremely disappointed. The former chef of "Le Vigne" now has her own small rest. in Radda called "Le 2 Forchette del Chianti" which is quite delicious for light lunches, dinners, aperitivo. You may enjoy "Osteria Le Panzanelle" rest. in Lucarelli which is located on the road from Radda to Panzano where our famous butcher Dario Cecchini has his shop. His restaurant "Solociccia" is quite an experience. Also highly recommended is "Il Ristoro di Lamole" in the small hamlet of Lamole. Delicious food and wonderful panorama with Filippo as a special host owner. As always experiences can vary but the ones positively mentioned are consistently good restaurants. Buon Viaggio!

      Ristoro di Lamole
      via lamole, 6,, Greve in Chianti, Tuscany 50022, IT

      2 Replies
      1. re: chianti60

        Chianti 60,

        Thanks for the update on the changing chefs at Le Vigne--we started going there in 2004 and loved it; visited again in 2007 and it seemed as good as we remembered (always a tough call). When I saw some not-so-great-reviews starting a couple years ago, I started wondering. Will give "Le 2 Forchette del Chianti" a try next summer. Hope she still makes that to-die-for cheesecake!

        1. re: Longing for Italy

          Yes, Elena still does her wonderful cheese-cake as well as the chocolate one that is also delizioso. The new restaurant is very small and location is not the best as it is near the road but they are doing their best. We live near Malborghetto that is located in Lecchi about 8km from Radda and agree it is good and recommed it highly. The owner/chef Simone, as well as his wife are lovely people and make guests very welcome. Also on the Slow Travel Jane list mentioned which is quite thorough, the "Al Gallopappa" restaurant closed a few years ago.

      2. My recommendation is for San Gimignano and it is not on your list: Poggio Alloro

        This little agriturismo is not very fancy, but the food is good and they produce everything on site (olive oil, wine, honey, etc). The most attractive feature is the breathtaking view: all of San Gimignano in the distance surrounded by lush Tuscan hills. Truly amazing.

        Here's a tip: Poggio Alloro raises Chianina and slaughters their own to make Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Many of the restaurants in Tuscany claim that their steaks are from Chianina, but they are NOT (they are just regular "bovina" or bovine). So, if you want to eat the famous Florentine T-bone steak, that is a good place to get it...they will even allow you to visit the barn and see the cows for yourself! It doesn't get any fresher than that :)

        1 Reply
        1. re: florenceinsider

          Thanks for all of the suggestions/comments! Will be sure to report back on our travels when we return.

        2. La Torre is fabulous. Quaint little place, the family were hand making pasta on a table off to the side, the owner is a little gruff, but in a charming sort of way, and the food was fabulous!

          1. I don't know if you know Jane's list, If not, it's worth a look.

            We've stayed in Chianti for years. Usually for weeks at a time, just to eat.

            With the risk of being unfair to many excellent restaurants in Chianti, my favorites are Osteria alla Piazza and Ristorante Malborghetto. At the same risk, I would skip Radda altogether. We usually travel with a group of 6 to 8 knowledgeable eaters and these two are repeats every year.

            Many other restaurants on your list we've experienced and are superb. It's pretty tough to not eat very well at any of them.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ray2

              Finally got around to doing our trip report, and I just wanted to thank you for the Malborghetto recommendation! We loved this place and we hadn't seen/heard anything about it before your post (which we got the one time we logged onto email during our trip!). We were so sad to miss Osteria alla Piazza (direction/timing mixup), but we'll add it to our long list of reasons to return!