An exciting restaurant in Tuscany

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Visiting a historical cellar

La Leggenda dei Frati – The Legend of Friars

Dining in the heart of Chianti wine region

There is a jewel of a restaurant to be found in the heart of the Chianti area, where Tuscany actually feels more authentic and traditional, in the small village of Abbadia ad Isola. You will find it just next to a former Benedictine Abbey. This small restaurant, La Leggenda dei Frati is operated by the Saporito Brothers, Nicola e Filippo. Filippois in charge of the kitchen and Nicola is master of the dining room.

The brothers started their business a few years ago, very quietly, in one of the rooms that used to host what was once the dungeon of the abbey. This is where a bellicose bishop used to send rebellious citizens who didn’t agree with him, particularly about taxes.

According to my friends Nicola and Filippo, a ghost inhabits several buildings that comprise the complex including a church that is still in use.

“How else do you explain lights that turn on and off suddenly without anyone touching the switch, or the power going out in this building but not in the buildings across the streets?” Nicola asks me. “Or how do you explain doors slamming in the middle of the night?”

Legend says that a high-ranking Cardinal arrived from Rome to visit the abbey. The dungeon was filled to capacity, and during an important religious celebration, the prisoners started a rebellion. The noise coming up from the prisons reached the church where the cardinal was celebrating, the bishop got so mad that in order to quiet the prisoners his militia resorted to killing several of the poor peasants that were protesting.

“If you want to see for yourself,” Nicola said, “just stay with us until we close and leave the restaurant late at night.” I still haven’t had time to check it out for myself.

With or without ghosts at the table, the Saporito Brothers run a very good business. If you are in for a serious dining experience, you have found the right place. Some of the selections include: Ribollita, Pici, Liver paté, Bean soup, Wild Boar sauce, Chianina steak and many other dishes that represent the most authentic Tuscan cuisine masterly recreated to tease your taste buds. Fresh ingredients from local gardens picked up daily at the farmers market, the best olive oils in the area, together with passion and competence, all contribute to an exquisite culinary experience.

The wine list, of course, pays homage to the local production with a collection of the best super and regular Tuscan reds and whites along with some remarkable Italian finds.

The service is precise and the prices are in line with the level, between €50/70 ($60/75).

Castellina in Chianti (Si)
Località Abbadia Isola
Tel. 0577 301 222, Monday closed.

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