Castello di Meleto

July 23, 2010 / Places
Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany
castellomeleto1Visitors to Tuscany tend to focus on the fine wines, picturesque cities, and many ristoranti of the region, seldom pausing to consider what lies beyond the travellers’ idyll. As you’ll find at Castello di Meleto, just south of Gaiole-in-Chianti, an unpromising facade can hide both beauty and history.

The castle belonged to a branch of the Ricasoli family from the 13th Century, according to historical records, until it was sold to the Societá Vinicola Toscana in 1968. It’s dour, grey-stone exterior conceals what would once have been an intimate, romantic, albeit grand, home. Walls are decorated with trompe l’oeil, similar to that found in French and Bavarian castles, and the seemingly broken doors (in faux marble castellomeleto2frames) were, in fact, designed to ensure that no room was sound-proof, thereby preventing intrigue during the Sienese-Florentine wars. The pezzo forte (lit. “strong piece”, as in highlight) of the tour however is without doubt the original, cosy theatre, built in 1740, and still containing some original scenery from a play performed in 1742.

All behind an unpromising facade perhaps, but beauty and history there for those in the know.



– Contributed by Lynda Higgs, global nomad, writer, and observer of this beautiful and bewildering, fascinating and frustrating place in which I currently live.

7 Responses to “Castello di Meleto”

  1. Castello di Meleto–another seldom-seen Tuscan treasure. Thanks for the photos and comments on a beautifully maintained castle. Fantastico!

  2. Lynda Higgs,
    Thanks for the lovely article about Castello di Meleto. It makes us want to visit while we are in Italy. Do they have any festival or
    celebrations at the Castello during the year which might be worth attending? With appreciaiton, John B

  3. “designed to ensure that no room was sound-proof, thereby preventing intrigue during the Sienese-Florentine wars” ?
    Who said this?
    The castle’s present shape dates to much after that period and there wouldn’t have been any intrigue at Meleto,anyway because the Ricasoli were always firmly in the Florentine camp.
    On this point there is an interesting piece of furniture in one of the living rooms (a painting on the doors of small wardrobe), showing the planned final shape and look of the site.
    Designed by Ricasoli himself, it was set to look like a then fashionable English manor but it was only partially completed and the Italianate garden on the front was never built.
    The present restaurations were done in the ’80s and are not quite what they should be: just flashy.
    The little theatre is a jewel, however.
    There’s quite an interesting story behind how this and other properties were sold by the Ricasoli, who were basically bankrupt, in the early 1960’…
    And the passageway so that the master of the house could privately summon the young maid to his bedroom…
    But these are stories for another day..

  4. Gian Banchero

    As an Italian friend always tells me “In Italy no matter where you go you’re walking on history.” What fascinates me very much is the photo of the “original scenery” from a long forgotten play… Thankfully it was kept, obviously because it was/is a work of art in itself. One of the reasons that Italy is very cutting-edge when it comes to cinema, the arts, clothing, food, cars, etc. is because it well values the old saying, “One stands on the shoulders of the past to see the future.” Thank you very much Lynda Higgs…

  5. My best friend is from Italy, and she has told me about this work of art. I can feel you their, with all the smells of great food and beautiful people.To be in oneness of it all. Thank you for sharing this. much love & many Blessings to you Lynda Higgs

  6. Dear John B – if you click o the link in the article, for the Castello’s website, you can sign up for their newsletter. They have events at various of the year, and they have accommodation too, and I think that they manage to offer these services without spoiling the atmosphere of the place. Gabriella, one of the staff there, takes the guided tours (in Italian, English, and German if you wish) and is very helpful. As with much Italian history, particularly of older families, as much is down to myth as fact, but it is a beautiful, romantic place and the area of Gaiole-in-Chianti is well-worth a visit.


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