The Brolio castle has a Lombard origin, although no remains of the ancient fortress are left today, apart from its original location. Its historical role became clear from the 12th century, when the powerful Ricasoli family settled there, still owning it to this day. Its strategic position was vital to control that area of the Chianti at the edge of the Florentine influence and bordering Siena. Therefore, from the 1300’s to the mid-16th century, the castle was the battleground of cruel wars between Siena and Florence for the control of this important frontier land.
This is the heart of the Florentine territory in the Chianti League formed by the “terzieri” of Radda, Castellina and Gaiole, a land rich of feuds and fiercely disputed by the two powerhouses. Florentine and Senese castles in the area were constantly strengthened and resulting in two actual contrasting defensive lines.
The Brolio castle was almost always under the Florentine domain, with the exception of a temporary occupation by Siena following the second Aragonese invasion of the Chianti in 1472. In 1484, when the castle was under Florence once again, a massive work of restoration and expansion of the fortification was started, turning Brolio in one of the early Italian bastioned fortresses.
The base of its well-preserved stone ramparts is characterised by an irregular pentagonal shape, a primitive feature if compared with subsequent developments of this kind of fortification. Some sources say it was designed by architect Giuliano from Sangallo, who built several Medicean fortifications.
The enclosing wall includes the remains of the original medieval castle, especially the forecastle and the Romanesque church, as well as a grandiose neo-gothic villa in red bricks that replaced the pre-existing premises built by Baron Bettino Ricasoli in the nineteenth century (1809-1880), a famous politician named the “Iron Baron”. The castle is located in the centre of vast vineyards, where the Ricasoli counts have been getting their wine since 1141, distilled in their famous wine cellars inside the mighty walls. Although a private residence, it is possible to visit the castle, apart from the palace. You can walk all around the ramparts, with wonderful views over the Chianti hills.
Representation of the Brolio castle on the Map of the Captains of the Guelphs; Brolio – View of the castle and the walls; Brolio – View; Brolio – vault of the chapel of St. James; Brolio – nineteenth-century armour, detail; Brolio – detail of the facade, south side; Brolio – glimpse of the Forecastle and chapel of St. James; Brolio – detail of the facade, north side; Brolio – armour, nineteenth century
|latitude||43° 24' 51,39" N|
|longitude||11° 27' 50,74" E|