Toscana - Places to Visit - Radda in Chianti
Radda, with a total area of 80.56 square kilometres (31.10 sq. m.), is situated on the hills of the upper Pesa and Arbia valleys. Its highest point is Montequerciabella (Monti del Chianti) at 845 meters (2,772 ft.), while the altitude of the town is 533 meters (1,748 ft.).
The entire commune is within the Chianti Classico zone. Neighbouring communities are Cavriglia, Gaiole in Chianti, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Castellina in Chianti and Greve in Chianti. Radda has 1,630 inhabitants (1991) with 28% of the working population engaged in agriculture (vineyards and olive orchards). Agricultural tourism is extremely popular.
The history of Radda in Chianti - While place names of Etruscan origin, as well as those of a Latin tradition, clearly indicate the antiquity of settlement in the Radda district, it was only recently that excavations, carried out at Poggio La Croce and Malpensata, brought to light important Etruscan artifacts.
In the Middle Ages, powerful feudal families and local lords built numerous castles in the zone but these strongholds soon came under the control of Florence. The first notice of the court and castle of Radda dates to the beginning of the 11th century.
In the mid-13th century, when the Republic of Florence organized the small communities of its countryside into leagues, the Chianti zone was one of the largest so that it was divided into "terzieri" or "thirds".
The Castle of Radda initially became the capital of one of those terzieri and then of the entire League of Chianti. Of all the castles of the Radda district, only Volpaia developed beyond a simple redoubt.
Others, like Albola and Monterinaldi, have been preserved in fragmented condition or they were transformed into villas, like Castelvecchi, or farmhouses, like Castiglione, Trebbio and Paterno. Other rural dwellings have retained the towered pattern of medieval lords houses.
Religious entities have also left numerous interesting and significant traces. The best example is the Pieve di Santa Maria Novella, which has kept its original design. Such churches as those of Albola, Bugialla, Livernano, Montemaione and Radda itself have also retained Romanesque features.
The most unusual religious structure in the countryside, because of its link with the monumental architecture of the Florentine Renaissance, is the church of Sant`Eufrosino at Volpaia.
It is known as La Commenda because it was linked with a benefice created in 1443 for the benefit of the Order of Knights Hospitler of Jerusalem. The small chapel at Mercatale, near Radda, dates to the 18th century and was influenced by the tradition of Tuscan Mannerism.