The Castle of Brolio in Chianti
Erected in the XI century on a hill overlooking the soft hills of the south of the Chianti, Brolio owes its current appearance to Bettino Ricasoli, which in the second half of the nineteenth century wanted to make it one of the highest examples of the Neo-Gothic Senese.
Here Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880) protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento next to Cavour and then twice Prime Minister of the Kingdom, he carried out experiments that led to the birth of the modern Chianti.
The rooms of the ancient castle house host the Ricasoli Collection, which collects unique and rare pieces that tell the story of this family of warlike origin, who fought alongside the Medici and who then gave a fundamental contribution to the Unification of Italy.
Next to the chapel stands the residence of the Ricasoli family. The manor house, in brick and stone in the Neo-Gothic style of Siena, was restored and partly rebuilt in 1860 on a project by architect Marchetti, while behind it stands the ancient formwork with crenellated towers.
The massive structure of the walls (high 14 - and long 450 m), erected with irregular pentagonal plan, allowed the defense from all sides of the castle, and according to a study conducted by General Raffaele Cadorna those of Brolio they would represent the first example of bastion walls in Italy.
On the main front of the castle (south side), you can admire the mountains of Cetona and Radicofani, while to the south the mass of Mount Amiata appears. Toward the south-west stand out the bell towers and towers of the city of Siena, and further to the right the mountains of Volterra and down the valley of the Arbia.
today Castle, is the headquarters of a modern company with the cellars avant-garde not far away. All around there are 230 hectares of vineyard of the estate, the largest of the Chianti Classico: 1200 hectares between the municipalities of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga, 26 of which are cultivated with olive trees.
The history of the Castello di Brolio
Il castle of Brolio it stands on the top of an isolated hill along the outcrops of the mountain ridge of the Chianti, at 530 meters above sea level. The first news of the castle dates back to the XI century when, in the 1009, Bonifacio Marquis of Tuscany and father of the Countess Matilde gave it to the monks of the Badia Fiorentina together with the underlying church of San Regolo. In the 1141 i Ricasoli they took possession of the castle in exchange for the transfer of some land to the monks of the Badia a Coltibuono.
In the 1176, after the defeat of Legnano, the Florentine Republic, taking advantage of the decline of the Barbarossa - ally of Siena - tore the Sienese part of the Chianti including the castle of Brolio and its lands up to the river Arbia. From this moment on, Brolio became the Florentine stronghold closest to the enemy Siena. In the 1434 the Sienese adventurer Antonio di Checco Rosso Petrucci managed to get hold of Brolio by trickery, locking up Galeotto Ricasoli and his family in the vaults. There Florentine Republic he established before the negotiations, but seeing the negative result of these he sent to the castle Neri Capponi with a handful of soldiers, who forced Antonio di Checco to retreat after forty days of stay in Brolio and the consequent destruction of part of the stronghold.
In the 1478 it was the turn of the armies of Ferdinando d'Aragona, king of Naples, of Pope Sixtus IV and the Sienese to attack the castle and besiege it for almost two months. The enemies of Florence succeeded in occupying it, sacking it first and destroying it almost completely. After the war, the
General Council of the Florentine People, in the 23 April 1484 session, decided to rebuild the castle and the defense walls. The walls and bulwarks that still surround Brolio are precisely those wanted by the Florentines at the end of the fifteenth century, in defense of an outpost of vital importance against Siena.
In the 1529, during the famous siege of Florence by the Spanish army of the emperor Charles V, the castle of Brolio was attacked once again by the Sienese. The Ricasoli were hunted and the castle burnt down. Only the city walls survived.
In 1555 Siena was finally conquered by the Florentines and Brolio - like the other fortresses of Chianti - lost its defensive role. Peace brought with it the end of the destruction and the beginning of a period of prosperity for all the inhabitants. In the early nineteenth century, under the Napoleonic government, the castle became part of the Ombrone Department and then passed into the Province of Siena together with the Municipalities of Chianti. In the first fortnight of July 1944, during the retreat of the German armies to the north, the castle of Brolio was for the last time invested for twelve days by the artillery and by aerial bombardments of the English and South-African allies. The 15 July, having withdrawn the German cover patrols, the castle was occupied without being shot. Of the serious damages suffered during the bombings, some minor signs are still visible.
From March to November it is possible to visit the beautiful ones gardens in the sixteenth century style of the Brolio and admire the Chapel of San Jacopo whose origins date back to the mid-fourteenth century.
Accompanied by the guide you can also access the Ricasoli collection: a permanent exhibition composed of four rooms and located inside the keep of the ancient manor, which contains unique and rare pieces that belonged to the members of the noble family.
Continuing along the walls of the castle you reach the main terrace where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the Sienese countryside and the vineyards of the family company.
Located on the slopes of the Brolio, wine shop offers the opportunity to taste and buy all wines he Barone Ricasoli oils, in addition to precious local craft items. Open all year, without reservation.
A few steps from the Enoteca, theOsteria del Castello completes the tourist offer of the estate where strictly Tuscan dishes are served in full respect of the seasonality of the ingredients.
On reservation it is possible to organize private visits for individuals and groups.
Contact center: 0577 7301 (from Monday to Friday)
Ticket office and book office: 0577 730280 (from March to November, every day 10: 00-17: 00)
Places of interest nearby:
- at 30 min by car from the city of Siena
- to 1 now 30 min from the city of Firenze
- at 2 hours from the city of Pisa