The view from Pitti Golla’s outside patio (photocredit: @dougzamensky)
When I was younger I had the opportunity to study Italian during the summers in the beautiful city of Firenze (thanks, Mom and Dad!). I didn’t know anything about wine back then- I had no idea I was living smack in the middle of some of Italy’s most prestigious and mythic wine territory. For me Firenze was a lynch-pin experience in my life. This city is magic- a cornerstone of Toscana and the historical incubator for Italian art, science, literature, language. Now I realize that Firenze is also an important heartbeat for Tuscany- birthplace of Sangiovese, Vermentino, Trebbiano. Chianti Classico around the corner, Montalcino down the road. Returning back to the wandering cobblestones streets of this Renaissance dream was a complete revelation for me.
Firenze is beautiful.
Aperitivo at Pitti Gola.
After spending a couple of days in the hills of Chianti, we arrived in Firenze fueled by Sangiovese and cured meat. We took the requisite walking tour, marveled at the overwhelming beauty on display at every corner. A few of us walked struggled to the top of Brunelleschi’s dome- how had I never done this before!? Best 8 Euros spent in Firenze.
We reconnected for an aperitivo thanks to the unfaltering guidance of our fearless leader, David Weitzenhoffer, at Pitti Gola. This is a relatively new wine bar located just across the street from the Palazzo Pitti on the Oltrarno(the “other side of the Arno river”). A quick 10 minute walk from the very center of the city’s historic district- this is a prime location. You might think it would be the usual tourist trap, with the requisite small, boring, over-priced wines list. You would (thankfully!) be wrong!
Pitti Gola is everything you want in a wine bar. A well-curated list of current and older releases from thoughtful, authentic, local producers. A few gems from other wine-making regions. Champagne. Franciacorta. An idyllic setting in front of one of Firenze’s most impressive monuments. In fact, it’s pretty much the definition of “wine bar perfection”.
Pitti Gola was born out of passion and luck. It’s owners (Zeno and Edoardo Fioravanti and Manuele Giovanelli) already worked in the current location years ago, which at the time was just another restaurant.
When the partners had the opportunity to acquire the space, and simultaneously happened upon a gentleman looking to sell an estate’s private collection of impressive verticals of local wines, the wine bar was born.
This private wine collection included an amazing selection of Chianti Classico by the legendary producer, Felsina. We tasted a bottle of 1971 that was absolutely spell-binding.
Each time a customer orders a bottle of an older vintage, one of the sommeliers has to jog down the block and around the corner to a basement apartment they have converted into the perfect wine cellar. The night we were there, Zeno took me with him to pick up a bottle for our table. I have never seen a sommelier happier, or more enthusiastic to be (literally) running to his cellar and back to the table.
The 1971 Felsina was bright, very well-balanced, and had that integral staying power- you know when you taste something like this, you are int he presence of a master-winemaker. Cherries and graphite and dusty library books. All those things that take you right to Chianti. Plus the layers of savory: soy sauce, Worcestershire, cured meat. The wine was beguiling, powerful. I am sure this will remain a standard for me when I think of great older wines I have tasted. Plus, it’s the kind of wine that teaches you the real potential of a grape and a terroir. This is Sangiovese. This is Chianti Classico.