The Legend of the Black Rooster (Gallo Nero)

Picture this: You’re at a picnic table in a hilltop town in the beautiful hills of with a bottle of Chianti Classico wine. As you take your first sip, you mouth explodes with a variety of spices and the taste of fresh red fruits. While this wine is perfectly light to go with fatty Italian meats, it is full of a rich history. 

You may have noticed that some wine bottles here in Chianti are marked with what the Italian's call Gallo Nero. Curious the meaning behind this symbolic black rooster?

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson


The black rooster has been a symbol of power, victory, and pride for the Florentines since the 1200s. Siena and Florence were in constant dispute over their territories, but when the rich soil of the Chianti region was up for debate, both sides were willing to race for it. Both Siena and Florence each got to pick one horseman and one rooster. While Siena chose a plump white rooster that was well-fed and nurtured, the Florentines picked a black rooster deprived of both food and daylight.

Once each side chose their rooster, the rules were determined. On the morning of the race, the horseman could begin to ride when their rooster crowed. Then, wherever the two horsemen met is where they would define boundaries.

photo by kelsey gibson

photo by kelsey gibson


Here’s the exciting part: the night before the race, the horsemen were ready to go…all that was between them and riding for victory was the simple sound of their rooster’s call in the morning. As the anxiety built up throughout night and even before the morning light, the black rooster, hungry and sleep deprived, crowed well before Siena’s rooster giving the Florentine rider an extravagant head start. On the other side, the white rooster with a full belly woke up much later from a deep sleep and caused Siena to lose much time and land. By the actual time the two horsemen met, Florence had conquered almost all of the land in the Chianti region and won it over Siena.

Ever since this day, the black rooster has become a well-known symbol for great quality wine and Florentine victory.

So, Salute to Chianti, Florence, and of course… the Black Rooster!

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