When you’re searching for an ideal location to book a holiday somewhere warm, sunny, and steeped in history, the first place that should come to mind are the rolling hills of Tuscany. Villas in the region make the perfect accommodation base from which to visit the ancient cities of Florence and Pisa to explore the rich artistic culture, but when you venture out into the smaller towns, your itinerary should include at least a few of the many historic castles dotted around the rural landscape of the region.
With seven designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there is no end to the history that can be uncovered in the area. As a starting point, head out to see Cacciaconti Castle, the Rocca of Tentennano, and the Brolio Castle, all of which will be within easy driving distance of any of the Tuscany villas.
The Cacciaconti Castle
When on a mission to explore the castles within easy access of your Tuscany villas, your itinerary should definitely include a day trip to the medieval town of Trequanda. It is here that the road from Siena historically passed through to Chiusi and became an important place of power. Sitting high on a hill above the town, the castle was built in the 13th century by the powerful Cacciaconti family. The walls encircled the town with five towers and three gates that joined to the main round tower of the castle. Two of the three gates remain along with some traces of the original walls, but the castle was damaged in the Second World War and much of it has been restored.
Rocca of Tentennano
Rocca d’Orcia was settled as early as 853 A.C., however it wasn’t until the area came under the rule of Siena, in the 1200s, that it was fortified and the castle of Rocca of Tentennano was built. The castle was once held by the upstart Cocco Salimbeni who relinquished it in 1419; it was used for military purposes until the 16th century when Siena bowed to Florence. (The castle came under the power of Florence when Sienese troops defected and simply opened the gates.) Over time, the castle was gradually forgotten, and today it is mainly visited by people who wish to explore the history of the area and enjoy lovely views of the valley. Visitors can really get a feel for what an ancient castle fortress was like, as it hasn’t altered in hundreds of years.
When you’re staying in any of the wonderful Tuscany villas, holiday plans should definitely include visiting some castles and sampling some wine – and it is even better when the same place can give you both! In southern Chianti, Brolio Castle can do just that. Begun in the Middle Ages, the castle was in the heart of the region of bitter conflict between Florence and Siena – right through history and up until the Second World War the castle saw many battles and endured extensive damage. In modern times, the castle has been expertly rebuilt around its authentic ancient features – like the medieval bastions and the unique 19th century Tuscan detailing. When you visit Brolio Castle, not only can you take a tour of the fortress, you will also find yourself in the largest vineyard in the Chianti Classico region. It is an absolute pleasure to sample the wines produced here, which have been developed since the Ricasoli family took possession of the castle in the 1100s.