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Sunday 23 April 2017
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Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto

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The Chianti has always been considered the heart of Tuscany and runs between the region’s two main cities: Florence and Siena. Divided into two areas known as Chianti Fiorentino and Chianti Senese, its excellent wines and fine olive oil are renowned throughout the world. The long history of this region dates back to well before 2000BC, as testified by an abundance of Etruscan archaeological sites, Medieval castles, chapels, hamlets, farms and country villas.

The Chianti Senese extends for almost 386 square kilometres and includes a number of towns around Siena such as Castellina in Chianti, a small town founded by the Etruscans; Castelnuovo Berardenga, the southernmost town in Chianti; Gaiole in Chianti, known for its excellent Chianti Classico; and Radda in Chianti, also founded by the Etruscans. The area lies to the north east of Siena and borders with the Valdarno to the north, the Crete Senesi to the south, Valdambra to the east and Val d’Elsa to the west. The countryside varies from plains to the soft hills of Castellina in Chianti and the middle hills of Castelnuovo Berardenga, right to higher ground to the west of Radda and Gaiole in Chianti. The main rivers that run through the area are the Ombrone and the torrents of Ambra, Arbia, Bozzone, Elsa, Gena, Malena and Pesa.

Along the SS540 road towards the Monastery of Ombrone, immersed in one of the loveliest sections of the Chianti Senese countryside, stands the Castle of Montalto. The original nucleus of the castle was built by the Counts of Berardenga and probably existed as early as the 9th century. The castle stands at a strategic point along the Roman road that ran through the whole of the Valdambra towards Valdarno.
In 1208 the castle was seriously damaged during the Battle of Montalto. Siena later fortified it with an additional circle of walls. The castle remained in the hands of the Counts of Berardenga until the 15th century, however, when it became part of the Republic of Siena and in 1456 was granted as a feud to Giovanni Palmieri, whose family retained it until 1572. After undergoing restoration works at the end of the 19th century, today the castle has been converted into an elegant holiday home for tourists, who can stay in part of the castle itself and in the surrounding Medieval houses. There is also a swimming pool and tennis courts. The surrounding countryside is ideal for walking and there is a well-equipped riding school nearby.

The Castle of Brolio, which dates back to the late Middle Ages, is right in the centre of the Chianti Senese area, on the border between the towns of Gaiole in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga. The castle is still in the hands of the Ricasoli family and its name derives from the Longobard word brolo, meaning an enclosed green area. Under the Medicis in 1450 the castle was transformed into an irregular pentagon-shaped fortress by Giuliano da Sangallo, who also designed the watch tower and five bastions – the first of their kind to appear in Italy. In 1835 the castle’s owner, Baron Bettino Ricasoli – a well known politician known as the barone di ferro, or iron baron – commissioned the architect Piero Marchetti to transform the castle into a neo-gothic redbrick mansion. Of the building’s original structure only the perimeter walls, keep and Romanesque church remain. The gardens were laid out by the botanist Simone Ricasoli and consist of a 16th century formal garden with hedges and paths in the inside, and a 19th century green area planted with herbs that surrounds the exterior of the castle.

Although still in private hands, the castle is open to the public, which has access to everything but the mansion. Visitors can tour the bastions that command magnificent views over the surrounding vineyards, also owned by the Ricasoli family, that have been producing wine famed throughout the world for centuries.

The Castle of Meleto is near the small town of Gaiole in Chianti, founded originally by the Etruscans, along the road that runs from Valdarno to Siena. The castle dates from the 11th century, when it was part of the properties of the monks of Vallombrosa. The first lord of the castle is recorded as having been a certain Guardellotto, but after he fell from grace the castle passed into the hands of the Firidolfi family.

Meleto was one of the main fortresses of the Chianti League of towns and, despite the continued clashes between Siena and Florence, escaped virtually unscathed. The original walled fortress structure of the castle, designed as an irregular square with a central keep, is still clearly visible today.

Following a brief two-year occupation by Aragonese forces, who were allies of Siena against Florence, in 1480 Florentine troops recaptured the castle and strengthened its defences with two large cylindrical bastion towers, brick galleries, curtain walls and arrow slits.
In the 18th century the castle was altered into a patrician residence. As with many other places in the Chianti area, the castle is a fantastic location, ideal as a venue for a variety of events and in particular for weddings. Today the castle is part of a farming business.


 

All'inizio

  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Historical Residences 
Hotels 
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 

  OFFERS & LAST MINUTE
Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Restaurants 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

  Education
Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 

  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

  Sightseeing
Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
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