The trademark always found on bottles of Chianti Classico is the Black rooster, historic symbol of the Chianti Military League and among other things depicted by famous artist Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
The history of this symbol also includes a curious legend from medieval times recounting an event that in actual fact led to the definition of the political boundaries of the Chianti territory, with a black rooster’s behavior ostensibly decisive.
As the legend has it, in medieval times when the Republics of Florence and Siena were bitterly fighting for dominance, Chianti territory – because it lies between the two cities – was constantly fought over. To end the dispute and establish definitive borders of dominion, a very odd method was chosen. It was agreed that two knights would depart from their respective cities and fix the boundary point at where they met. Departure was to be at dawn and the signal to ride given by rooster crow, quite logical for an epoch when daily routines were paced by natural rhythm. In preparing for the event, more importance was given to the choice of the rooster than of the rider or the horse. The Sieneses chose a white rooster, and the Florentines a black one, which they kept in a small, dark chicken coop and practically starved for so many days that it was desperate.
On the fatal day, as soon as it was freed from the coop the rooster began to crow, although dawn was still far away. His loud crowing allowed the Florentine knight to set off posthaste and much ahead of his Sienese counterpart who had to wait for daybreak for his rooster to crow. And since the Florentine horseman had such a head start he met up with the Sienese knight at Fonterutoli, a mere 12 kilometers from the latter’s departure point.
And so nearly all of Chianti was brought under the power of the Republic of Florence, much earlier than the defeat of Siena itself.