Gaiole in Chianti is a village located in the “Chianti castles” area on one of the roads running from central Chianti to the Val d’Arno. This area is characterised, obviously, by numerous picturesque castles, both intact and ruined, together with several beautiful pievi (parish churches) and fortified abbeys. The surrounding hills are dotted with wineries and agriturismi making Gaiole a popular centre for holidaymakers. There are a number of established “castles routes” radiating out from Gaiole so that it’s a simple matter for visitors to the area to put together a half or full day car excursion.
Gaiole in Chianti had its origins in mediaeval times as the market to the Castle of Vertine and the Castle of Barbischio, and was one of the foundation towns of the Chianti League. It is now a farming centre, mostly for vineyards and olive growers. Gaiole in Chianti has a pleasant main street with restaurants and cafes, making it a good place to stop for lunch when exploring this part of Chianti.
Among the many sights of interest in the vicinity of Gaiole are:
- The Badia a Coltibuono, formerly the principal abbey of the area but now a winery with a popular restaurant. Tours of parts of the former abbey and the reconstructed italianate garden are available.
- The walled village of Vertine is well worth a stop. In mediaeval times, Chianti was dotted with tiny, walled borghi like Vertine but now there are few remaining intact. Vertine and Montefioralle are fine extant examples of what was once the most common form of inhabited nucleus in Chianti.
- The Castello di Spaltenna and its parish church form another classic example of a Tuscan fortified settlement consisting of a monastery (previously a castle), a parish church and a cluster of farmhouses. Spaltenna is now private property but some parts of it can be visited.
- The Castello di Brolio is a neo-gothic pile that still belongs to the family of Baron Ricasoli, an important participant in the formation of a united Italy and the inventor of the first Chianti Classico wine grape formula. Parts of the castle can be toured, and the gardens and ramparts can be visited without a ticket. The views towards Sienna are spectacular.
More about the sights and history of Gaiole in Chianti.