Castello di Brolio

Municipality:Gaiole in Chianti
Region: Toscana

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Erected in the 11th century on a hilltop overlooking the gentle hills of the southern Chianti region, Castello di Brolio owes its current appearance to Bettino Ricasoli, who in the second half of the 19th century wanted to make the Castle one of the finest examples of Sienese Neo-Gothic architecture. It was here that Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880), who was a key figure in the Italian Risorgimento alongside Cavour and was later to be Prime Minister of the Kingdom over two mandates, carried out experiments that would lead to the birth of modern Chianti. The rooms of the ancient keep also house the Ricasoli Collection, which contains unique and rare pieces that tell the history of this family of warrior origin, who fought alongside the Medici and later made a fundamental contribution to the Unification of Italy.

The Ricasoli family residence is adjacent to the chapel. The manor house, built of brick and stone in Sienese Neo-Gothic style, was restored and partly reconstructed in 1860 according to a design by architect Marchetti, while the ancient keep with its crenellated towers rises up behind it. The powerful structure of the enclosing walls (14 metres high and 450 metres long), erected in an irregular pentagonal shape, meant that the Castle could be defended from all sides and, according to a study conducted by General Raffaele Cadorna, Brolio would represent the first ever example of fortified walls in Italy. From the main front façade of the castle (south side), one can admire the mountains of Monte Cetona and Radicofani, while the imposing mass of Mount Amiata is visible to the south. Facing southwest, the bell towers and towers of the city of Siena can be seen, and further to the right, the mountains of Volterra, with Arbia Valley in the distance.

Today, the Castle is the site of an innovative business enterprise with state-of-the-art cellars. With its surrounding 230 hectares of vineyards, it is the largest wine-producing estate in Chianti Classico, with a total of 1,200 hectares between the municipalities of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga, 26 of which are cultivated with olive trees.


The Castello di Brolio stands on the top of an isolated hillock in the foothills of the Chianti mountain ridge, 530 meters above sea level. The earliest records of the Castle date back to the 11th century when Bonifacio, Marquis of Tuscany and father of Countess Matilde, granted it to the monks of Badia Fiorentina together with the church of San Regolo below in 1009. In 1141, the Ricasoli family took possession of the castle in exchange for the ceding of some of their lands to the monks of Badia a Coltibuono. In 1176, after the defeat at Legnano, the Florentine Republic, taking advantage of the decline of Barbarossa, who was an ally of Siena, wrested a part of Chianti from the Sienese, including the Castle of Brolio and its lands as far as the Arbia River. From then on, Brolio became the Florentine stronghold which lay closest to their enemy, Siena.

In 1434, the Sienese adventurer Antonio di Checco Rosso Petrucci managed to seize Brolio by means of deception, imprisoning Galeotto Ricasoli and his family in the dungeons. The Florentine Republic initially attempted to negotiate with him, but when this proved unsuccessful, they dispatched Neri Capponi to the castle with a band of soldiers, forcing Antonio di Checco to retreat after forty days of siege at Brolio and resulting in the subsequent destruction of part of the stronghold. In 1478, it was the turn of the armies of Ferdinand of Aragon, King of Naples, Pope Sixtus IV, and the Sienese to attack the fortress, besieging it for almost two months. Florence's enemies then succeeded in occupying it, firstly sacking it and then almost completely demolishing it.

Once the war was over, the General Council of the Florentine People decided to rebuild the castle and its defensive walls at its meeting on 23 April 1484. The walls and ramparts that still surround Brolio today are indeed the very ones commissioned by the Florentines at the end of the 15th century to defend an outpost of vital importance against Siena.

In 1529, during the famous siege of Florence by the Spanish army of Emperor Charles V, Brolio Castle was once again attacked by the Sienese. The Ricasoli family was expelled, and the castle set on fire. Only the enclosing walls survived. In 1555, Siena was definitively conquered by the Florentines, and Brolio – like the other fortresses in Chianti – forfeited its defensive role. Peace brought with it an end to the destruction and the beginning of a period of prosperity for all of its inhabitants. In the early 19th century, under Napoleonic rule, the Castle became part of the Department of Ombrone and subsequently fell within the Province of Siena, together with the other municipalities of Chianti.

In the first half of July 1944, during the retreat of the German armies to the north, the Castello di Brolio was bombarded by the artillery and aerial bombings of the British and South African Allies during a period of twelve days. On 15 July, after the withdrawal of the German cover patrols, the Castle was occupied without a single shot being fired. Some minor signs of the severe damage inflicted during the bombings are still visible today.



From March to November, it is possible to visit the beautiful 16th-century gardens of the Castello di Brolio and admire the Chapel of San Jacopo, whose origins date back to the mid-14th century. Accompanied by a guide, visitors can also access the Ricasoli Collection, a permanent exhibition housed in the ancient fortress's keep, which contains unique and rare items belonging to members of the noble family. Continuing along the castle walls, you will reach the main terrace, offering breath-taking views of the Sienese countryside and the vineyards of the family estate.

Located on the slopes of Castello di Brolio, the wine shop provides an opportunity to taste and purchase Barone Ricasoli wines and oils, as well as valuable local artisanal products. The Enoteca is open all year round, with no need to reserve in advance. Just a few steps away from the wine shop, the Osteria del Castello is the perfect finishing touch of the estate's range of services for tourists, and serves traditional Tuscan dishes prepared using the finest seasonal ingredients.

Private visits for individuals and groups can be arranged upon reservation.

Switchboard: +39 0577 7301 (Monday to Friday)

Ticket office and booking office: +39 0577 730280 (from March to November, daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)


The city of Siena is 30 minutes away by car.

Florence is 1 hour 30 minutes’ drive.

The city of Pisa is 2 hours away from the Castello.

Numbers of seats for events:100