I am sure I am not exaggerating by saying that Ricasoli is one of the most representative wineries in the Chianti Classico area. Owner of more than 1200 hectares of land, of which about 240 hectares are vineyards, the Ricasoli family has its fulcrum and historical residence in the majestic Castello di Brolio.
In this scenario, a succession of colours and gentle hills where the eye is lost well beyond the towers of Siena, Baron Bettino Ricasoli ( 1809-1880 ), already president of the Council of Ministers for 2 terms after Cavour as well as a great agricultural entrepreneur, created in 1872 the formula of Chianti Wine, the current Chianti Classico.
With the awareness and responsibility due to a history of more than a hundred years (documents dating back to 1600 mentioning exports of Brolio wines to Amsterdam and England), today the company is managed by Baron Francesco Ricasoli, to whom we owe not only the continuous development and quality of the wines of Brolio, but also a constant commitment to the maintenance and recovery of the landscape and the ancient farms of the family.
Only the view that can be enjoyed during a walk along the walls of the Castle is worth the price of the ticket; on clear days it will be easy to see to the south the Pieve Marsina and even further away the unmistakable profile of Siena with the Cathedral and the Torre del Mangia, while looking a little to the left you can recognize the cottage where Liv Tyler danced directed by the great Bertolucci (but I’ll talk about this in a little while).
Whether you arrive by car or by bike ( the electric mountain bike tour that includes a visit to the Castle is highly recommended by me ), your destination is Madonna a Brolio ( Google Maps ); here you will find a large parking lot, the new Agribar and the Enoteca; you can decide to leave your car and bike here and continue on foot to the castle, the route is uphill but easy to follow and for the most part in the shade, also allows you to admire the tree-lined avenue whose curves are the scenery of one of the most beautiful passages of ‘Eroica (if you do not know what this link is talking about must be your next step); Alternatively, enter by car between the 2 stone columns that lead to the Castle and drive along the same avenue to the Castle (without stopping at the first parking lot which is that of the Osteria del Castello), you will find a small parking lot just below the ticket office and the entrance.
The easiest, cheapest and without reservation, to visit the Castle is the Visit of the Castle Gardens and Tasting (about 1 hour); with a ticket of 7,50€ (children up to 12 years old for free) you will have access, every day from 10 to 18 (in winter time the hours are reduced but we refer you to the Castle website for all the info), to the characteristic Italian gardens with geometric shapes and to the walls that surround Brolio, to the San Jacopo Chapel and to the Enoteca with the possibility to taste one of the Ricasoli wines.
For a more in-depth visit and to fully enjoy the history and current production of the company, the Classic Tour lasting 2 hours has a cost of € 35 per person (reduced for children aged 13 to 18 years, without tasting – Please note: children under 12 years are not allowed on this tour), starts at 10.30 am and must be booked. It includes a guided tour of the Castle, the winemaking facilities and the large cellars, ending in a private room where you can taste a selection of Ricasoli products.
For a couple of years, recovering some premises just in front of the Enoteca, was inaugurated the Agribar targato Eroica.
It is a bar with outdoor tables where you can have breakfast, snacks or light lunches and excellent evening aperitifs, but not only; in fact, from here you can admire the passage of the caravan of Eroica since before dawn with good music and many festive people; starting from Spring are organized weekly events such as dinners, musical evenings and aperitifs (the advice is to follow the Facebook page to be constantly updated).
Finally deserve a mention the ‘vintage-style decor of the bar and the excellent research on products for sale with a view to find “replaced” of classic consumer drinks with local and regional products, good!
It was 1996 when Bernardo Bertolucci chose the Tuscan countryside and some farmhouses and villas in Chianti for his film Stealing Beauty with Liv Tyler.
At the beginning of this article I was telling you about one of the cottages of the film, clearly visible from the walls of the castle; it will be enough to take the car and go down, not towards the Enoteca but in the opposite direction, towards south, along a long and straight avenue of cypress trees, to get to the cottage very well recognizable from the scenes of the film, including the old pool used as a swimming pool.
From here, continuing on the unpaved road, after a short while you enter a paved road in the direction of Pianella; a few kilometres and after a bend you will see the Leccione, the place of the final scene and highlight of the film, in all its majesty.
I created a map with the places described above and I include a video to refresh your memory a little bit, of course on the net you can find many insights on the film itself and all the other places in the Sienese countryside that appeared in the film (like the beautiful Villa di Geggiano).
Mark on the calendar the nights of full moon, because legend has it that on these very occasions the bed where the Iron Baron rested was found undone and it is possible to see the ghost of Bettino Ricasoli around Brolio, alone or on horseback with his hunting dogs.
Legend or not, try to explain it to us Renato Polese, journalist of Domenica del Corriere, who in 1965 decided to spend a night at the Castle to see it clearly; the Baron’s ghost decided to become famous because the journalist told in a 3-page article that at midnight appeared in front of him staring at him for a few endless minutes.
What can I say, we have proof!