This legend dates back to medieval times, the period of the wars between the Republic of Florence and the Republic of Siena.
To put an end to the bloody battles, the two Republics decided to remap the borders and establish to whom to appoint the territory of Chianti. Being unable to come to a deal, they arranged a contest between two knights: when the rooster sang its first song, the knights would start to gallop towards each other, from the respective cities and the Florentine border would be fixed at their meeting point.
Therefore, the two cities each had to find a reliable rooster, ready to sing at the first light of dawn so their knight could be the first to leave and advance as much as possible. The Florentines chose a farmyard black rooster that was hungry because it had been kept without food. The Sienese on the other hand, opted for a tame white rooster that was well fed for they were convinced that at daybreak this one would sing louder.
The day of the trial of the black rooster, in the grip of hunger, began to sing although dawn was still a while away; he may have been deceived by the light of a candle lit specifically to allow the knight of Florence to leave well before and win the “higher ground”. Indeed, the two knights met in Castellina, only 12 km away from the walls of Siena.
Hence, the black rooster became the symbol of the Chianti League, which had administrative tasks in the Florentine state, and was in charge of military defense. Some centuries later, the artist Vasari chose this symbol, together with the Bacchus, to represent the region on a fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.
Since 1924, the black rooster has also become the symbol of the Chianti Classico Union and still to this day, it is printed on all their bottles, to bear witness to the authenticity of Chianti Classico wine.