The League of Chianti, an ancient and modern history

The League of Chianti, an ancient and modern...

In the 12th century, the Chianti area belonged almost entirely to the Republic of Florence, which had gained control of the area with the help of both ecclesiastical organization and parishes, the latter as political-administrative centres.

Therefore, seven centuries ago, presumably in the second half of the thirteenth century, on the initiative of the Florentine Republic, they created the League of Chianti as a sort of military jurisdiction.

“The oldest Statute of the League of Chianti dates back to 1384 and contained the civil and penal rules that the Podestà, head of the League, was required to enforce throughout the Chianti area, then divided into the Terzieri of Radda, Gaiole and Castellina. These municipalities belong today to the Province of Siena.

The Podestà, whose office lasted six months, resided in Radda. He was assisted by administrators and infantrymen”, Maurizio Mancianti, Co-President of the Tuscan-American Association tells me. Currently Senior Counsellor, Head of the Italian Terzieri and Pivieri (Firenze, Siena, Arezzo, Prato, Fiesole, Valdarno, Valdelsa, Valdipesa, Castelnuovo Berardenga e Lazio) of the League of Chianti, he explains to me with an enthusiastic and involved spirit, the history, through the centuries, and the current activity of the League. Its goals, its structure and activities run over the centuries up to these days.

“The parishes, to which the various peoples belonged, were the fundamental point of reference, the administrative structure.

The term piviere derives from “pieve“, the church with the adjoining baptistery, which in the Middle Age was the centre of the civil and religious territorial district.

In the following centuries, with the consolidation of the Florentine domination of the “Land of Chianti”(through the occupation of Siena and its territories around 1550), the defensive purposes of the League were lost while the administrative, civil and penal functions were strengthened. They paid great attention to all those regulations that served to improve crops, in particular, those of viticulture and grape harvesting, to increase wine production. Since 1444, for example, they established that the harvest could not begin before the 29th of September, to be sure of producing “that good wine that sells so well”, he recounts.

Since the Middle Ages, the emblem of the “black rooster in a field of gold” was the sign of the League of Chianti.

The Black Rooster is still today the historical symbol of Chianti, adopted as a trademark for the Chianti Classico wine by the Consortium that groups the region wine producers.

In 1774, the League of Chianti was dissolved to make way for institutions created according to the new order and wanted, for the entire Florentine territory, by the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo (1747-1792).

Despite the passing of the centuries, some of the founding values of the League of Chianti have come back in fashion today. The passion for the territory, for the culture and the products of Chianti, as the principles based on a good quality of life, which had characterized much of its activity, have been rediscovered as still very significant even in our day.

Consequently, in 1970, the League of Chianti was re-established and in 1985, they have celebrated seven hundred years since its birth.

Today the League is the natural continuation of this ancient institution, mixing the present needs of the reality of this territory, and yet animated by the very same principles.

“The current statute is based on the commitment to preserve the “Terra del Chianti” in its entirety, to enhance the culture of wine, the values ​​of rural life and the religious sense of life. The basis of these principles is the universal conscience, which expresses itself through the friendship and solidarity among all the men of Chianti and all those who love this “Territory”, adds Maurizio heartily.

The League of Chianti includes men and women who come from every region and nation, united by the desire to protect and enhance a unique territory, full of art and history, where the culture for the products of the earth holds centuries-old wisdom.

Each of them is assigned a Terziere or a Piviere, led by a Captain or a Commissioner, and promotes independent initiatives such as congresses, tastings, guided tours.

The Terzieri consist of the three original localities, Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti and Radda in Chianti.

The Piviere of the Captain-General represents the Pivieri in Italy. For Tuscany, the Piviere of Arezzo, Castelnuovo Berardenga, Fiesole, Firenze, Greve in Chianti, Prato, Siena, Val d’Arno, Val di Pesava d’Elsa; for Central Italy, the Piviere of Lazio e dell’Umbria.

Foreign Pivieri are Solothurn, Ticino and Zurich for Switzerland, Vienna for Austria.

The Captain-General governs the League of Chianti. He oversees the Major Council, the highest body with consultative powers.

From 4 October 1998, they elected Baron Giovanni Ricasoli-Firidolfi as Captain-General; his mandate was reconfirmed in 2005 and 2012.

Italian and foreign Legates and honorary Dames can also be elected for special merits.

“The most significant moment for the Institution is the “Annual Chapter” carried out by the Capitanía Generale with the support of the Ecclesiastical Authority, which takes place alternatively in churches and prestigious places in Florence and Siena. In the last few years, they celebrated the Annual Chapter in the Cathedral of Siena and the Baptistery of Florence. It is a majestic ceremony, preceded by a solemn Holy Mass. For this purpose, they produce a book for the Holy Mass, each year accompanied by different apparatuses, accompanied by historical-artistic studies dedicated to a particular work of art or ancient text relating to the church where the ceremony takes place. At the end of the religious function and following an ancient ceremonial, the “Enthronement” of the new Legates and Dames takes place”, he concludes.

Speaking of the League of Chianti, we can understand the continuum of tradition, originated in the Middle Age and leading to our days, based on the love and passion for the territory and its products.

Maurizio Mancianti’s Portraits made by carmeli /

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