Chianti offers visitors natural beauty and breath-taking examples of historical grandeur.
Beyond the Arbia bridge at Pianella, weekend wanderers can take the Strada dei Castelli del Chianti heading toward the municipality of Gaiole.
A right turn at the first junction will take visitors to San Giusto a Rentennano where they can appreciate a true taste of Chianti scenery. According to historical documents, the Benedictine Convent of San Giusto was founded some time before 1136. In 1297, its nuns were transferred to the Monastery of Santa Maria Novella in Siena, as the village and Church of San Giusto became property of the Ricasoli family. Thanks to its strategic location on the border of Sienese territory, the Ricasoli heirs subsequently transformed the church into a fortress.
The fortress was stormed and taken by Sienese troops in 1390—thanks to new bombing artillery, used for the first time in Tuscany ’s history. The castle was totally destroyed during the takeover and the villa’s foundations were later built on its ruins. Visitors with a trained eye can still spot some parts of the original medieval wall.
A bit further down the road, wanderers can enjoy the breath-taking view of Lucignano in Chianti. The Lucignano Castle was originally owned by the monks of the Vallombrosa Monastery of Coltibuoni. Historical documents speak of its existence as early as the mid XI century. Today, visitors can still see part of the original castle’s remains and tour its rectangular building with vaulted ceilings, restored in the 1500s. Other presumably medieval structures surround the courtyard, which can be accessed from the south-west, by passing under a grand stone archway.
A bit further down the road, visitors often stop to appreciate the extraordinarily picturesque valley of Torricella, with its beautiful XVII century villa in the distance.
Past San Regolo, visitors will arrive at the Madonna di Brolio junction and pass over the state highway going towards Castelnuovo. Broglio Castle is located on the right-hand side. The castle, with its majestic courtyard, was donated to the Abbey of Florence in 1009. During the second half of the following century, however, it was taken over by the Ridolfi family. In 1176, the castle was subject to Florentine domination, even if the Sienese never ceased their efforts to conquer it.
The Florentines considered the area so important that in 1298 they sent a ruling delegate and later built new fortifications. The wall, shaped like an irregular pentagon, is one of the first examples of a bastioned wall in the area. As one of the territory’s first fortresses, it is quite primitive. Nonetheless, it’s well-preserved and visitors can appreciate its high base and spot archers’ posts at various levels.
During the last century, Brolio was home and refuge to Bettino Ricasoli, great statesman during Italy’s unification process. Man of culture and exemplary farmer, Bettino established the make-up of ‘Chianti’ by determining the percentage of each grape that would go into the famed wine. During its last period of splendour, the castle underwent a huge restoration process, particularly of its romantic façade, created in the Sienese Gothic style.
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