Our meeting point is a small parking area at Hotel Villa Belvedere just off the Autostrada between Florence and Siena. From the Autostrada, turn off the Colle Val d’Elsa Sud junction towards Colle Val d’Elsa. After 100m, at the roundabout, turn first right towards Colle Val d’Elsa/San Gimignano/Volterra (SP5). After 200m, on your right, you will see the sign for Hotel Villa Belvedere. The parking where we meet is just by the road.
We will decide the exact launch site in this area when we meet in the morning of your flight. Our choice is governed by weather conditions and/or logistical factors.
This area, half way between Florence and Siena, witnessed countless conflicts between these city-states in medieval Tuscany and the ages have left their mark. The nearby towns San Gimignano and the walled city of Monteriggioni and several other small hamlets and castles still retain their fortified aspect, reflecting their defensive position from the days when the campagna (the countryside) was fit only for abbeys, monasteries, battles, and exile.
The launch sites are situated close to the geographic centre of the Chianti region 12-15 miles south of Florence along the Pesa valley, close to the ancient crossroads of two Roman roads — the “Via Cassia” leading from Florence to Siena and on to Rome, and the Via del Chianti towards San Donato and Castellina in Chianti.
From here, you will fly over the legendary Chianti landscape with its hilltop towns, castles, valleys, famous vineyards, and mixed woodlands. A powerful landscape, one of the most civilised rural scenes on earth, cultivated tranquillity of olives, vines, and corn. The olives’ silver and the many variegated shades of green appear as a veil over elemental majesty and silence. On clear days in the distance you can see Florence to the North and the Apennine mountain range in the background; to the West you can see the Elsa valley, Certaldo, and Volterra and the sea in the far distance. To the East you can see the higher Monti del Chianti and mixed oak woodlands.
On some days, a good breeze may take you right over to San Gimignano, or all the way to the Etruscan town Volterra. On other days, you may fly low over the silent landscape, a combination of husbandry with geological majesty. One might spot a family of deer or the elusive and clever wild boar trying to hide from the mysterious balloon gliding overhead looking for a place to land.