Castle of Brolio

castello brolio chianti  - dimore storiche italiane

Built in the 11th century, Castello di Brolio was restructured by Bettino Ricasoli whom, in the second half of the 19th century, strove to make the Castle one of the best examples of the Sienese neo-Gothic style. There, Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880) who was the protagonist of the Risorgimento aside Cavour and he twice held the position of Prime minister of the Kingdom, turned his attention especially to viticulture and wine production, experimenting continuously in the vineyards and cellars. Thanks to his research Chianti Classico was born, just as we know it today, produced with mostly Sangiovese grapes.
The keep of the Castle of Brolio houses the Ricasoli Collection with its unique and rare pieces that tell the history of this warrior family who had fought together with the Medici’s and then gave an important contribution to the unification of Italy.
The Ricasoli family residence is located beside the family chapel. Built with bricks and stone in Siena neo-Gothic style, it was renovated and in part reconstructed in 1860 by Baron Bettino Ricasoli under the direction of the architect Marchetti. The old castle keep with its crenelated towers can be seen behind.

The powerful defensive walls (50ft/14m high and 1500ft/450m in perimeter) that surround the castle like an irregular pentagon, allowed all sides of the castle to be defended. According to a study conducted by General Raffaele Cadorna, the fortifications of Brolio represent the earliest example of walls with bastions in Italy.
Right along the south side of the castle, Mounts Cetona and Radicofani can be admired and to the south the greater Mount Amiata. Towards the southwest the bell towers and other spires of Siena are visible, and further to the right the hills of Volterra; the Arbia river valley is also visible below.

The Castle is now the headquarters of a modern firm, with its cutting–edged cellars closed by.


storia ricasoli chianti  - dimore storiche italiane

The Ricasolis have been at Brolio ever since. Brolio Castle was for centuries involved in bitter rivalries between Florence, allied with the Papacy, and Siena, a partisan of the Empire based in Germany. Built around 1000 A.D., the castle was owned for a while by the monks of Badia Fiorentina, but in 1141, the Ricasoli family traded its property near Badia a Coltibuono to the monks in exchange for Brolio and its surrounding fields, woods and vineyards. At the end of the twelfth century, Florence conquered southern Chianti from Siena. This included Brolio, which thereupon became a terrifying sentinel, the southernmost Florentine outpost from which the towers of Siena could be seen – as visitors can today. “When Brolio growls,” it was said, “all Siena trembles”. There were many battles around Brolio, but only in 1434 was the fortress captured by an army from Siena under Antonio Petrucci, an adventurer, who imprisoned the Ricasoli family within its own vaults until a sizeable Florentine force reclaimed the castle. Petrucci carried off considerable loot as he left. In 1478 Ferdinand of Aragon, King of Naples, Pope Sixtus IV and Siena joined forces against their rival Florence. They laid siege to Brolio for two months before it surrendered.
The “indomitable” Castle was sacked and razed almost to the ground. Only six years later, the Ricasoli family, with the full support of Florence, rebuilt the castle and added the wall under the direction of the great engineer Giuliano da Sangallo, an expert in fortifications. The wall surrounding the central keep and the other buildings reaches a height of nearly 50ft (14m) and the entire fortress has a perimeter of about 1500ft (450m). In 1529 during the siege of Florence by the Spaniards of Emperor Charles V, Brolio was again captured and the Ricasoli family expelled, but the fortification suffered little damage. In 1555, Siena was definitively conquered by Florence and along with all the other Chianti fortresses; Brolio lost its defensive role. The Medicis united the cities of Tuscany under their rule in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and Brolio’s violent past was finally over. Peace brought the end of destruction and the beginning of a period of prosperity for all. Under Napoleonic rule in the first part of the 19th century, Brolio Castle became part of the administrative Département de l’Ombrone; it subsequently became part of the Province of Siena together with other towns in the Chianti area.
In 1860, Bettino Ricasoli – who later succeeded Camillo Cavour as the prime minister of the newly proclaimed Kingdom of Italy – moved to Brolio and hired the architect Pietro Marchetti to restore the main block of the castle facing southwest towards Siena. Marchetti covered the structure with deep-red brick in the neogothic style inspired by the old buildings in Siena.
For twelve days during the first two weeks of July 1944, as the German forces retreated north, Brolio castle was attacked for the last time, this time by artillery fire and air raids from the English and South African allies.
On 15 July, the German defence patrols having withdrawn, the castle was occupied without a shot being fired. There are still some minor signs visible of the serious damage done during the bombardments.


vino ricasoli brolio  - dimore storiche italiane

Castello di Brolio with its beautiful 15th century style gardens is open for visitors from March to November. During the visit of the castle gardens, it is possible to admire the Ricasoli family chapel, Cappella di San Jacopo, built during the second half of the 14th century.

Moreover, guided tours of the Ricasoli collection are available: this permanent exposition is located in four rooms of the castle tower, offering the opportunity to view unique pieces of the noble Ricasoli family history, covering the era from the 14th to the 19th century.
The walk alongside the 15th century fortified walls takes you to the terrace, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding vineyards, the beautiful countryside and Siena.

The wine shop Enoteca Barone Ricasoli is located at the lower side of the hill, where our guests can taste a vast variety of Barone Ricasoli wines and olive oil. Moreover, the shop offers for sale various precious products from local artisans.

To complete the tasting experience, our guest can enjoy lunch or dinner at the nearby Osteria del Castello enjoying typical Tuscan dishes with genuine ingredients for each season of the year.

We organize private tours for individual guests and groups upon request.


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General Info

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  • Seats : 100

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  • Tickets : 5€
  • Open on : Mon,Tue,Wed,Thu,Fri,Sat,Sun
  • Opening times : da marzo a novembre
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Castle of Brolio

Region : Tuscany

Province : SI

City : Gaiole in Chianti

Address : Località Madonna a Brolio

ZIP Code : 53013

Website
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Info

Main Contact: 0039 0577 7301 (from monday to friday)
Tickets & book office: 0039 0577 730280 (from March a November, everyday 10:00-17:00)

Places of interest nearby:

– 30 minutes, by car, from Siena
– 1h30 from Florence
– 2 hours, from Pisa


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