Castello di Brolio

Castles and hills along the Via del Chianti

Some of the area's highlights

 
RENTENNANO
After a short distance, there is a road off to the left which goes towards S.Giusto a Rentennano. The Benedictine convent of S.Giusto has been here since at least 1136. At first, the convent was allied with the Berardenghi dynasty, from which the nuns received many land concessions.
 
In 1204 the convent came under Florentine rule, after a treaty signed in Poggibonsi between Florence and Siena. Nonetheless, the nuns didn’t break all ties with the Berardenghi or with the Berardenghi Abbey. In 1297, the nuns were transferred to Siena to the convent of Santa Maria Novella and the village and the church of S.Giusto became the property of the Ricasoli family.
 
Due to the area’s strategic position on the border with Siena, the Ricasolis turned the village into a fort, which was subsequently overrun by Sienese troops in 1390. It was the first time ever that bombardment had been used by a military force. The castle was totally destroyed after the attack and the villa that can be seen today was built on its ruins.
 
LUCIGNANO
A little further on this road is a breathtaking view of Lucignanoin Chianti which can be reached by taking a brief deviation from the main route. Lucignano castle was owned by the monks from the Vallombroso monastery of Coltibuono.
 
Not much remains of the original castle except a high rectangular building with vaulted ceilings which was transformed in the 1500s. Continuing along this road is the extraordinarily picturesque village of La Torricella which sits at the point where two valleys meet. La Torricella is home to a lovely seventeenth century villa and a chapel probably from the same period.

BROLIO
The road then goes through S.Regolo and arrives at the important Madonna di Brolio crossroads, from which it’s possible to reachBrolio Castle (towards Castelnuovo and then right). Brolio Castle and its court was given to the Badia of Florence in 1009 by the Marquis Bonifazio, son of Count Alberto.
 
Towards the middle of the following century it came into the possession of the Firidolfi family, before coming under Florentine rule in 1176 - although the Sienese never gave up trying to conquer it.
 
The town was considered so important by Florence that in 1298 a Florentine mayor was sent there and new fortifications were put in place. It was besieged by the Aragonese in 1452 and again in 1478, when the town was finally conquered and destroyed. In 1484, Cosimo I commissioned Giuliano da Sangallo to refortify the town. The walls he erected, which have an irregular pentagonal shape, are the first example of walls with ramparts.
 
More recently, in the last century, Brolio Castle was home and refuge to Bettino Ricasoli who was a great statesman at the time of Italian unification, a highly cultured man and an exemplary agriculturalist.
 
GREVE
Another interesting town along this route through the Chianti region is Greve in Chinati. This town takes its name from the river that runs through it and is the most important town of the Chianti Classico region. It is also home to the largest wine fair in Chianti which takes place every September. At the end of the Middle Ages, Greve grew on the banks of the river as a market place for the surrounding fortified villages, castles and farms.
 
In 1325 the town was razed to the ground by Castruccio Castracani, the Duke of Lucca. Despite this unfortunate fate, the town managed to grow again during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and, after Italian unification, it became the most important city in the centre of the Chianti region. The reconstructed church of Santa Croce, home to some paintings from the Fra’ Angelico school, is in the upper part of the asymmetrical main square, Piazza Matteotti.
 
Old documents show the original piazza was square shaped, but over the years different buildings were added with porticos and loggias which changed its shape and made it more triangular. One point of this ‘triangle’ is turned towards the neoclassical façade of the Santa Croce church.
 
On one side of the piazza stands a statue of the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (also spelt ‘Verrazano’) who discovered the bay of New York. The family home of Amerigo Vespucci is in nearby Montefioralle
  
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Chianti
The Chianti hills, which resemble a wavy chain, are between the provinces of Florence, Siena and Arezzo and have always epitomized this land, popular since the first person ever set foot here. ...
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