Castello di Meleto 

The massive Castle of Meleto near Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy

Gaiole in Chianti

Gaiole - history

Gaiole in Chianti - accommodation

Castle of Spaltenna

Villa Visatarenni

A brief History of the Castello di Meleto

Castello di Meleto

Castello di Meleto

 Stay at Castello di Meleto

The Castle of Meleto is first documented as a possession of the monks of the nearby Badia a Coltibuono in the 11 C. The first vassal of the Castello di Meleto seems to have been a certain Guardellotto, but he was stripped of all of his possessions as a result of a difference of opinion with the Emperor Federico Barbarossa. The latter then entrusted Meleto to the local Firidolfi family who were already in possession of several other castles of the area. This was the origin the branch of the Firidolfi known as "di Meleto" while another branch of the family, known as the Ricasoli Fibindacci, soon became prominent in the history of this part of Chianti, based at their castle at Brolio.

The Castello di Meleto was strategically very important for a number of reasons. It was very near the border between Siennese and Florentine territory, and was, indeed, the last Florentine fortification in this direction. It is located on a hill that dominates the important road running between the Val d'Arno and the Chianti valley, and hence also became one of the principal fortifications of the terzieri of the Chianti League which consisted of Gaiole, Radda and Castellina.

Not surprisingly, for centuries the Castello di Meleto was the scene of skirmishes and battles, in large part between the forces of Florence and Sienna without, however, suffering serious damage. The essentially military purpose of the structure is readily evident even today, despite the modifications carried out in the 18 C. The ground plan of the castle is an irregular square, almost trapezoidal, with the keep, lower than it was originally, situated in the middle.

In 1478 the castle was occupied by the Aragonese army allied with Sienna, but two years later it was regained by the Florentines who initiated major work to reinforce the defences.

The additions made during the1480's are virtually totally intact even today. They include the two huge, cylindrical and machicolated bastion towers located at the more exposed southern angles of the castle walls. (Machicolations are floor openings between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones, boiling oil etc. could be dropped on attackers at the base of the wall.)  Dating from the same period, there are the two brick reinforcements at the northern angles of the walls, overlooking the edge of the crag and so already naturally defended to some extent. Other reinforcements were made to the curtain walls facing the only access road, and loopholes and gun holes (now partly disappeared) were inserted along the whole perimeter of the castle enclosure. In 1529, thanks to these improvements, the castle of Meleto was able successfully to withstand to a siege by the imperial troops.

Although Meleto Castle was never seriously damaged by sieges and battles, it was considerably modified when it was transformed into a villa during the 18 C when its defenses were partly dismantled. The interior today still reflects the style of this period, with decorated halls and a remarkable little theatre, dating from 1742, that still possesses its seven original stage scenes. Meleto remained the property of the Ricasoli family until about thirty years ago. Today it is owned by a wine producing company and offers vacation accommodation and a wonderful Tuscan wedding venue

 Stay at Castello di Meleto

Meleto Castle in Tuscany

The bastions and walls of Meleto Castle in Tuscany

Travel Guide for Visitors to the Chianti Classico Wine Region of Tuscany, Italy.

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