Montegonzi is a small village in the comune (municipality) of Cavriglia in the province of Arezzo and is situated on an eastern spur of the Chianti Hills in the upper valley of the Arno. The ‘Gonzi’ part of the name is derived from a family name of Longobard or Frankish origin (and not connected with gonzo meaning ‘fool’ or ‘sucker’ in Italian). Although it occupies a strategic position on one of the old roads that crosses the Chianti Hills, the village is not really old by local standards (there are Roman and Etruscan ruins in the area), dating from the 11th century CE when it provided a fortified outpost on the border of the territories of Florence and Siena.
Today the village is still dominated by the small castle that was built to defend the road and has remained remarkably unspoilt. This area has been declared a zone of particular beauty and interest for tourism, and many of the farms in the area offer what is called agriturismo, a catch-all phrase covering all kinds of rural vacationing. The permanent population in the winter is less than 200, but this number quadruples during the summer when former residents and their families return for their vacations. Most residents work either in the towns in the valley (Montevarchi and San Giovanni) or in Florence or Arezzo.
In the past Montegonzi was noted for its white wine made from the malvasia grape. Unfortunately, very few of the local farmers now cultivate this variety, preferring to follow Tuscan tradition and concentrate on making red wine. By contrast, olive growing has never faltered, and the hills are dotted with patches, large and small, of olive groves. The area has enjoyed a high reputation over the centuries for the quality of the extra virgin oil produced from its olives, and this oil is still prized today.