The most monumental building in Castelnuovo Berardenga, near Siena, is Villa Chigi Saracini, built around 1820 by Galgano Saracini, who commissioned it and probably also designed it. The austere Classical style building is surrounded by an Italian garden and by an English park, which was designed in 1834 by Agostino Fantastici. This combines natural elements such as the lake, the sponge-rocaille grotto and the water courses with architectural structures such as the Doric style tepidarium separating the park from the garden. In 1866 the beautiful neo-Baroque fountain by the Sienese sculptor Tito Sarrocchi was placed near the monument dedicated to Michelangelo, by the same artist. The series of statues of great musicians, among whom Chopin and Verdi, were ordered by Count Guido Chigi Saracini, the founder of the Accademia Chigiana. In 1914 Arrigo Boito was the Sienese nobleman’s guest at the villa: the foundation of the famous music Academy was his suggestion.
Curina with its Chapel of San Liberato. The construction of the chapel, which, although in its small way, is by some called “the Sistine Chapel of Chianti,” can be traced back to around half of the Sixteenth century. It was commissioned by the noble Cinughi of the Pazzi family, whose coat of arms appears on the facade and who owned vast tracts of land in this area. This is a small rectangular building with a double slanted roof that shows particular building care. Inside it displays a large fresco decoration on the ceiling and walls of the sanctuary painted by the Sienese Arcangelo Salimbeni approximately around 1573. The vault depicts the Ascension to Heaven, while the side squares that continue along the lower walls on the four sides and under the arch are depicted scenes from the Life and Passion of Christ interspersed with Latin mottoes.
The Fortress of Montegiachi. Located on the Chianti hills, which is a small mountain chain between Florence, Siena and Arezzo, here are historic towns that are part of one of the most beautiful parts in the region offering stunning views as well as culture and history. The municipality of Castelnuovo Berardenga is characterized by the presence of numerous prestigious villas, built by the nobles from the nearby Siena. Standing on a raised embankment, on top of a hill overlooking the entire surrounding valley, is the fortress of Montegiachi. It was built in such locations by the will of Antonio Maria di Checco Cinughi, ancestor of the current owners, and is one of the many properties of the Cinughi in the territory of Castelnuovo. The building certainly dates from before 1522, when, following a testament, Antonio Maria left the house to the children Alessandro and Valerio. In 1827 the villa was partially restructured.
The Villa di Catignano was built at the end of XVII° century by the ancestor of the currents proprietors, Quinto Settano, pseudonym of Monsignor Lodovico Sergardi, a writer and a lover of the arts. The small borough already existed in 1500 with the name of "Clatinianum" as a property of Sergardi family. Nowadays the Villa, overlooking a beautiful italian garden, decorated with statues representing the four season, and the medievaltowers of Siena in the distance, welcomes guests who appreciate historical sites and suggestive atmospheres.
Villa di Geggiano | The original installation of Geggiano Villa dates back to 1530. Around 1768, in the occasion of the wedding of Anton Domenico Bianchi Bandinelli with Cecilia Chigi, Malavolti widow, the building was completely transformed in a grand villa with a garden surrounded by a wall and with a greenery theatre. Vittorio Alfi eri, who stayed for short periods at the villa, acted some of his tragedies just in the greenery theatre. In its splendour times the villa has been frequented by Montale, Saba, Guttuso and Stendhal. Recently the villa gave hospitality to the set of the movie "Stealing beauty".
Villa di Monaciano | The villa and park of Monaciano is still today the centre of a vast estate that dates back to the seventeenth century. The actual layout is the result of a unitary project to transform the complex, completed in the second half of the 1800's by the owner Alessandro Pucci Sansedoni. The garden, which is circa three hectares, occupies a sloping space from the villa towards the countryside and is divided in to two parts, notably very different. The first destined for fl owers and water features, the second, in the lower part, makes up a romantic park with large woodland areas laid out with sinuous paths. The park has been restored over the last few years and documented in a small photographic exhibition open to the public, which has put together the greenery and the existing manufactured objects to create a contemporary element represented by a theatrical backdrop of greenery, installed in the lower part of the park.
Villa a Sesta is a typical and picturesque Chianti village with a prevalent rural economy, located on the route to Brolio. Until the middle of IX century it was a Berardenga Counts possession. In 1882 its incomes were given to S.Salvatore in Campi Abbey, which is Berardenga's. The Church of S. Mary in Villa a Sesta is mentioned since VIII century as dependent on Pieve of San Felice. The current building anyway came out from a complete re-building and following transformations date back to XIX century. On the side-altars, inside the respective chapels, there are the Jacopo della Quercia Madonna con bambino wood statue and a Santa Caterina painting, which dates back to XVIII century.
Villa di Catignano | The villa of Catignano was built supposedly due to the initiative of Lodovico Sergardi, noted humanitarian known also by the pseudonym Quinti Settano (1660 - 1726). The villa has a rectangular layout, which develops, on three continuous levels, with a small extension that suggests an L shape. With regards to the interior, note the entrance hall on the ground fl oor, characterised by three stone columns that support an entablature with the coat of arms of the Sergardi family. On the first fl oor are rooms with painted architectural features, decorated attics and beam supports in wood and plaster. The Italian style garden, accessed by two fl ights of steps, is divided into three sections: the first is characterized by a series of ornate fl owerbeds and spherical box hedges, the second is made up of a vegetable garden and apple orchard and the third presents a maze formed by box hedges. The chapel of Santa Croce is dated 1697. Rich decorative props characterize the internal walls. On the far wall and altar is the sculptured representation of the story of the True Cross.
Badia Monastero was built to remind the 15th February 867 deed, when Count Winigis and his wife Richilda founded the women monastery of Santi Salvatore e Alessandro di Fontebuona a Campi. Later named San Salvatore della Berardenga. The monastery probably declined and was re-founded in 1003; this time it was given to a Benedictine male community. For the first time in 1028, it is mentioned as part of Camaldoli congregation. In XIV century the Abbey started to decline. Since early 1800 it is not a monastery anymore. Monastery and connected outhouses are currently used as villa and farmhouse. At the North-Western corner of the complex there is a cylindrical tower, re-built over the original one in Neo-gothic style. On the villa Eastern side there is a wooden bridge that leads to the garden. On the villa left side stands a Romanic imposing bell tower in Lombard style with a squared plan. At the opposite side there is the S. Salvatore Church, which is mentioned since monastery foundation.
Majestic and huge, the Brolio Castle evolves over 1200 hectares of green vineyards, refreshing olive groves and dark woody forests of oak. Picturesque and perfect in its setting, the countryside unravels its beautiful farmhouses that punctuate the landscape with Siena seen in the hazy horizon. This beautiful scenery is reflected in a painting by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the 1300s which is placed at the Town Hall of Siena. Walk into the interior of the castle and explore its interesting features. Come and stand in an atmosphere of solemnity at the small but appealing family chapel.
The castle of Brolio comprises of strong round towers and heavy fortifications to accommodate the new fire weapons of those days. The legend has it that the 'iron baron's' ghost in black still roams ceaselessly on a white horse at night. The name of the Brolio Castle is derived from the Longobardo term for an enclosed green space or orchard, 'Brolo'. With a watch tower, the fortress was transformed into a manor built in the romantic English style. Introduced by the Baron Bettino Ricasoli in 1835, the 'Gothic revival' was animated with brick that was so different from any other castle of that time. This ancient fortress was structured with Tudor windows and crenallated turrets built with a new type of stone called 'mattone' and pietra serena. Brolio Castle is a standing example of the various periods that evolved over the ages. The base of the castle reflects the early medieval structure and its walls are reminiscent of the Renaissance architecture and style.
Villa I Tatti
Villa I Tatti in Settignano was home to Bernard Berenson, the Lithuanian Jew who became America's most illustrious critic and connoisseur of Renaissance art. For 50 years it was a mecca for intellectuals and collectionists from the world over. Today the art collection and library serve as a research facility for Harvard University.
In 1900, Bernhard Berenson bought a villa in the Tuscan hills of Settignano, outside Florence. Villa I Tatti subsequently would be forever associated with Berenson. The gardens of the Villa I Tatti were created by the English landscape architect Cecil pinsent and Geoffrey Scott.
The newly married art historians Bernard and Mary Berenson made their home at the Villa I Tatti near Florence in 1900. In the following years Mary, supervised the rebuilding of the villa and the creation of its elegant gardens. The Berensons pursued their work at I Tatti over a period of nearly six decades, and here they entertained a remarkable circle of friends :art historians ( Kenneth Clark, John Walker, John Pope-Hennessy), writers (Edith Wharton, Alberto Moravia), political thinkers (Walter Lippman, Gaetano Salvermini), musicians (Yehudi Menuhin) and countless other visitors from every part of the world. At I Tatti Bernard Berenson assmbled a choice collection of Renaissance art, including works by Giotto, Sassetta, Domenico Veneziano, and Lorenzo Lotto. He also formed a prodigious art historical research library and photograph collection. When he died in 1959, he bequeathed the house, its contents, and the gardens to Harvard University as a Center for Renaissance Studies.