Brolio Castle or Castello di Brolio and other castles in the Chianti area of Tuscany, Italy

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The Chianti Castles route

La Strada dei Castelli del Chianti

Blue Itinerary - San Giusto a Rentennano (alle Monache), Lucignano, La Torricella, Castello di Brolio

Brolio Castle

Just after crossing the bridge over the River Arbia at Pianella, the route of Chianti castles enters the town of Gaiole. After turning right at the first fork, you find yourself almost immediately immersed in a typical Chianti landscape. Shortly afterwards, a road on the left leads to S. Giusto a Rentennano (alle Monache), a Benedictine nunnery of San Giusto that was definitely established before 1136. It used to be connected to the house of Berardenghi, from which it had received various land concessions. Following a treaty signed in Poggibonsi between Siena and Florence, it remained a part of Florentine territory from 1204. However its connections to the Berardenghi family and the Abbey of the Berardenga were not completely lost. In 1297, the nuns were transferred to Siena, to the Santa Maria Novella monastery. The village and the church of San Giusto became properties of the Ricasoli family, who, given its strategic importance on the borders of the Siena country, transformed it into a fortress. This was taken in June 1390 by the Sienese troops, who on that occasion used cannons, possibly for the first time in Tuscany. The castle was completely demolished (indeed, the invention of the cannon in the 14 C was the beginning of the end of the castle as an effective military structure). The present villa was built on the ruins of the castle. Next to the villa, some parts of the walls are still visible, undoubtedly of mediaeval origin.

Back on the road again, a little further on, there is the beautiful view of Lucignano in Chianti. The latter can be reached by means of a short detour. The castle of Lucignano used to be a holding of the Vallombrosian monks of the Abbey of Coltibuono, in the maps of which it is mentioned from the middle of the 11 C. One century later, the church of Santa Cristina at Lucignano became a possession of the nuns in San Giusto. In 1176, the Sienese handed Lucignano over to the Florentines, together with other sites in Chianti, and it was definitively assigned to their territory by the treaty signed in 1204. In 1432 it was occupied by the Sienese, who, however, were obliged to return it to the Florentines after about one year, as a consequence of the Peace of Ferrara. However, it suffered much damage as a consequence of the many wars of the following decades. Of the original castle only a tall, rectangular building remains, with vaulted rooms, and this was transformed in the 16 C. Other buildings, probably mediaeval, enclose the courtyard, which can be accessed from the southwest through a stone arch.

Continuing in the same direction and a bit lower down, you can see the extremely picturesque La Torricella, at the confluence of two small valleys. You can reach it via a road that turns off a little further on. La Torricella was first mentioned in a 1204 ruling that defined the boundary between the Sienese and Florentine territories. However no information is given on what it consisted of, and it was never subsequently declared to be a castle. Currently a beautiful 17 C villa stands there. To its side, you can see a chapel, probably of the same period.

Brolio Castle

Continuing onwards, you pass through San Regolo (with a very good trattoria "Il Carlino d'Oro") not quite visible from the road) and reach the important Madonna of Brolio crossroads, from where, after a stretch on the main road that goes towards Castelnuovo and then turning right, you reach the imposing Castle of Brolio. The castle with its courtyard was donated to the Abbey of Florence in 1009 by the Marquis Boniface, son of Count Alberto. About midway through the next century, it became a possession of the Firidolfi family. It next became a property of Florence, to which it was definitively assigned in 1176, although the Siennese attempts to conquer it never ceased. The city of Florence considered it so important that in 1298 they sent a podestà there and later on built new fortifications. It was besieged by the Aragonese in 1452 and 1478, when it was taken and destroyed, but after 1484, Cosimo I had it refortified by Giuliano da Sangallo. The walls he erected, in the form of an irregular pentagon, are one of the first examples of bastion walls, i.e. one of the first fortresses, although quite primitive. They are still very well preserved. They have a high scarp wall at their base and the several embrasures at various levels are the most interesting feature of the castle. For decades during the 19 C, Brolio was the residence and refuge of Bettino Ricasoli, a great statesman during the period of the Italian unification. He was highly cultured and an accomplished agronomist. In fact it was he who defined the composition of "Chianti" wine in terms of the percentage of the different Tuscan grape varieties used to produce it. During this last period of magnificence, the castle underwent an impressive reconstruction in the Sienese neo-gothic style, typical of the romantic taste of the time.

Brown Itinerary - Pieve di Spaltenna, Vertine, Uliveta, S. Donato in Perano, Vistarenni
Red Itinerary - Tornano, Morelline, Cacchiano, Monte Lodoli
 - Gaiole, Barbischio, Capannelle, Cancelli, Castello di Montegrossi, Badia a Coltibuono
Violet Itinerary - Vertine, Meleto, Rietine, Castagnoli, Starda, Monte Luco della Beraredenga, Montecastelli
Orange Itinerary - Campi, San Sano, Monteluco di Lecchi, San Polo in Rosso, Galenda, Le Selve
Blue Itinerary - San Giusto a Rentennano (alle Monache), Lucignano, La Torricella, Castello di Brolio

Anna Maria Baldini

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