Throughout Tuscany wine bottles and many a restaurant feature a black rooster, the famed 'Gallo nero', a marketing logo with a history that stretches back to the Middle Ages.
Legend has it that the black rooster, initially signifying the whole of the Chianti and now indicating the Chianti Classico region, was chosen for the following reason:
In the Middle Ages when Siena and Florence were fierce rivals and wished to locate the boundary between them, it was decided that two knights would set out on horseback from their respective hometowns at cockcrow and where they met would be the boundary.
The Sienese chose a beautiful white rooster, raised sleek and fat with the idea that it would loudly wake their knight at dawn; the Florentines, on the other hand, provided their knight with an underfed black rooster. On the day of the race, the black rooster was so hungry he began to crow even before sunrise, causing the knight to set out much earlier than his counterpart, whom he met at Fonterutoli, near Castellina in Chianti – a mere 12 km fron Siena. In this way, almost all of the Chianti was under the role of the Florentine Republic and the black rooster much celebrated.
Towards the end of the 14th C. the Lega del Chianti, Chianti League, a political and military alliance was created to administer and defend the Chianti territory for Florence. The league's coat of arms featured the black rooster on a field of gold, a symbol still associated with the Chianti Classico to this day.
Several restaurants feature the rooster and its association with the Chianti - both in name as well as its cooking and wine list. Here are a few you might consider:
- Siena: Ristorante Gallo Nero - Via del Porrione, 65-67
- Greve in Chianti - Enoteca Ristorante il Gallo Nero - Via Cesare Battisti
- Castelfiorentino - Il Gallo Nero - Viale Duca d'Aosta