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Castelnuovo Berardenga

  • Castelnuovo Berardenga sits on the southern border of the Chianti, somewhat overshadowed by Siena. For better or worse, its fortunes have always been tied to Siena. In 1555 this Sienese stronghold lost its encircling walls when Siena was defeated by the Florentine-led Medici Grand Duchy. Today, Castelnuovo is special for its peaceful atmosphere and sense of an authentic Tuscan style of living. The low-key charms include a couple of minor churches and a clocktower, remodelled from the original fortifications. Admire Vicolo dell'Arco, with its steep stone staircase and decorative arch. Such charms won’t detain you for long but it’s a soothing spot for contemplating the slow pace of life outside bigger Tuscan towns. In fact, Castelnuovo is a designated Città Slow for this reason. Beyond this former stronghold are a cluster of minor villas and wine estates. Essentially, treat Castelnuovo as a stepping stone to Siena and the southern Chianti.

  • Things to do

    Castelnuovo Berardenga makes a mellow base for exploring Siena and the southern Chianti.  As well as driving to wine estates, you could visit others by bicycle. The Chiantigiana, the Chianti Way, is made for forays to charming Chianti hamlets and castles doubling as wine estates or centres of contemporary art. To wallow in a tempting thermal spa resort, visit neighbouring Rapolano Terme. Or get on an electric bike or Vespa and explore the countryside. As for cultural trips, consider outings to Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Siena and, though further afield, Florence, a two-hour drive.

    This is just a taster to the Chianti. See our specific guides to top Chianti outposts, all accessed through our Destinations listings.

  • 1. Chianti cycle rides from Castelnuovo

    Based in Castelnuovo Berardenga, Chianti Bicycles offer both straightforward independent bicycle hire or well-planned bike tours. The company supplies hybrid or electric bikes and can organise good-value guided tours on request. Alternatively, you can rent their GPS system and go it alone, at your own pace. Their Castelnuovo Berardenga guided cycling tour heads north of town into the countryside around San Gusmè, Villa a Sesta and San Felice. This is a six-hour, 25km-route covering a mixture of asphalted roads and gravel paths, the famous Tuscan strade bianche.

    You can also do a so-called sunset tour from Castelnuovo, an easy, early evening 15 km-guided cycle ride ending in dinner in at La Taverna della Berardenga in Castelnuovo. En route, the group can watch the sun set over the ridge and Chianti hills. The company will drive you back to your villa after dinner. To visit Siena by bike from Castelnuovo Berardenga, this leisurely, six-hour 50km guided bike tour is long but easy, taking you along quiet roads en route to Siena and then lunch on Piazza del Campo. The panoramic route home follows the old Chianti road.

    If you’re an ultra-fit cyclist, consider the route to Vagliagli, Radda, Gaiole and Castello do Brolio, a 67 km round trip from Castelnuovo Berardenga. It includes some of the legendary L’Eroica route and also allows for a wine-tasting and light lunch at Casa Porciatti.  For more adventurous off-road rides, consult the company’s mountain-bike range and routes.

    Address: Chianti Bicycles,
    Via del Chianti, 10 Castelnuovo Berardenga 53019 (SI)

    Tel: +39.3315784929

  • 2. Rapolano Terme for a spa day in the hills

    Tuscan spas are arguably the most beguiling in Italy. If you feel like a day off from cultural
    exertions, then head to a spa in Rapolano Terme, Castelnuovo, just a fifteen-minute (14 km) drive away. Landscape as seductive as the history plays a part: you can wallow in sybaritic spas that have been there since Etruscan or Roman times. In the first century AD, Emperor Augustus’ physician issued a prescription to the poet Horace to visit the Tuscan spas, which is one of the first medical prescriptions on record. Rapolano’s original thermal baths date back to Etruscan and Roman times, with the Campo Muri archaeological park set just west of modern-day Rapolano Terme.

    As for treatments, wallow in the jets of the various pools or choose from an array of massages and therapeutic mud treatments, including mud facials. You can even have a couple’s massage using local honey, just as messy as it sounds. For dining, choose between L’Olivo, the gourmet restaurant, and Coffee Relax, the light-dining option, with romantic views over the hills.

    Address: San Giovanni Terme Rapolano 
    Via Terme San Giovanni, 52 
    CAP 53040 Rapolano Terme (SI)

    Tel: 0577 724039

  • 3. Castello di Brolio – birthplace of Chianti Classico

    Set around 13 km north of Castelnuovo Beradenga, Brolio Castle makes for a memorable day out. As well as a ramble through Chianti wine history, take in the sweeping vineyard views from the ramparts. Of the many Florentine castles in the woods, Castello di Brolio is the most impressive – not least because of its views over the original Chianti vineyards stretching as far as Siena and Monte Amiata.

    Tuscan aristocrats, including the Antinori and Frescobaldi families, have often been making wine since Renaissance times. Baron Ricasoli, whose descendants now run the castle, first designated the grape mixes to be used in Chianti wine. A Chianti consortium, the Consorzio Chianti Classico, acts as a quality control for all Chianti Classico produced in the region. The designated symbol, the gallo nero (black cockerel) designates quality.

    Book a visit to the castle gardens and cellars. Tour the estate, taste the wines, and see the family museum. The sunset tour is the most private and includes dinner in L’Osteria del Castello, the Ricasoli’s restaurant. Your castle ticket also allows for a free wine-tasting in the Ricasoli tasting rooms below the castle.

    Address: Castello di Brolio
    La Madonna sn, 53013, Gaiole in Chianti (SI)

    Tel: 0577 730280

  • 4. Chianti Sculpture Park for an engaging art trail

    The Chianti Sculpture Park, set in Pievasciata, 20 km west of Castelnuovo, makes a refreshing change from eating and drinking your way through the Chianti, lovely though that is. This harmonious Sculpture Park, also known as the Parco Sculture del Chianti, occupies an oak wood between Pievasciata and Vagliagli, about 10 km north of Siena. If arriving from Castellina you will be drawn to the scenery, a patchwork of olive groves and hills draped in vineyards, sublime views unfolding around every hairpin bend. Once there, simply follow the wooded trail that winds past sculptures cast in a multitude of materials and styles.

    The Sculpture Park is curated by art-dealers Piero and Rosalba Giadrossi, who often help out so you might well meet them. The concept comes from the ancient Italian tradition of creating site-specific artworks for the outdoors. Around 40 contemporary sculptures by different artists are dotted through the woods of this 17-acre site. Along the way, you can spiral through a life-size labyrinth made of glass cubes, and gaze at a sculpted cypress-like sculpture that looks more vivid than the real thing.

    There’s also an amphitheatre in the park for outdoor summer concerts, with genres embarcing classical, opera, jazz, folk, Gospel and tango. Even the amphitheatre is arty, made of slabs of white Carrara marble from Michelangelo's quarry, black granite from Zimbabwe and the stage covered with lava-stone. Definitely pick up an audio guide to the Sculpture Park from the entry kiosk or download the app before you visit.

    Address: Chianti Sculpture Park (Parco Sculture del Chianti),
    Localita la Fornace 48,

    Tel: 0577 357151

  • 5. Guided riding trails - with Centro Ippico della Berardenga

    If you like horses and want to appreciate a slower pace of life, then consider a guided ride through the Chianti. Berardenga Horse Riding Centre (Centro Ippico della Berardenga) is based on the eastern border of Chianti, north of Castelnuovo and just east of San Gusme. This is a reliable riding school, from the well-trained horses to the rides and varied terrain. Novices can go on shorter rides while more experienced riders can cover one-day trails, with picnics. These well-planned riding trails take in castles, wine estates and stretches of pilgrimage trails. The instructors, Sadio and Donatella, also speak English and French, and have been in charge of the Horse Riding Centre for a long time. This is an all-weather school so open all year. The riding school is recommended by FISE, the Italian Equestrian Federation.

    Address: Strada del Ciglio, 2
    Podere Santa Margherita
    53019 Castelnuovo (SI)

    Tel: +39 339 831 8519 / +39 335 432719

  • 6. Day trip to Siena

    Siena is a twenty-five minute (13 km) drive from Castelnuovo and makes a magical day trip. You could even cycle there and back on a tour with Chianti Bicycle. (See Chianti cycle rides from Castelnuovo).  Siena frames the southern end of the Chianti and so Castelnuovo makes a great base.

    As a Gothic city built on a human scale, Siena is effortlessly civilised and at ease with itself. All roads lead to Il Campo, the beguiling, shell-like central square, shaped like an amphitheatre. Sit at a terraced café on the sloping side of the square and spot the division of the paved surface into nine segments, recording the wise Council of Nine who governed Siena from the mid-13th century to the early 14th. Consider climbing the slender Torre del Mangia, with sultry views over a pink piazza and Siena’s rooftops, even if the views from the Cathedral rooftops are even better.

    Check our Siena guide to see what appeals most.

  • 7. Montepulciano for smooth Tuscan living

    Gorgeous Montepulciano is only a 45-minute (48 km) drive south from Castelnuovo. There is a loftiness about Montepulciano that makes itself felt in the noble palaces and equally noble wine. Even the citizens consider themselves superior, somehow above the fray. But ultimately Montepulciano is a smooth operator, delivering the true Tuscan lifestyle. Begin with a coffee in Caffè Poliziano, a lovingly restored Art Nouveau café which feels like a great Mitteleuropean café that wouldn’t be out of place in Vienna.

    Begin your explorations with the historical splendour of the Piazza Grande, Montepulciano’s showy stage set. Il Corso, Montepulciano’s main street, is dignified and reserved, much like Montepulciano itself. En route are snapshots of history, from solemn Renaissance mansions to recycled Etruscan artefacts, and the ancestral cellars of local wine families.

    Don’t leave Montepulciano without admiring its star Renaissance church. Tempio di San Biagio stands below the city walls, at the end of a long line of cypresses, and is the Renaissance church most at ease with its setting.

    See our Montepulciano guide for full recommendations of attractions and restaurants.

  • 8. Castello di Fonterutoli - wine-tasting & fine dining

    This impressive ancestral wine estate is a forty-minute, 32 km drive west of Castelnuovo. Castello di Fonterutoli is the first significant wine estate south of Castellina, a former Florentine outpost. This 21-hectare estate forms the ancestral heart of the Mazzei land-holdings, which the Mazzei marquesses have owned for 24 generations, ever since 1435. Even though the estate is 6 km south of Castellina, the views extend to Siena. From this timeless stone-built hamlet you can make out Siena’s Torre del Mangia and the outline of Siena Cathedral. These Fonterutoli estates are largely planted with Sangiovese, with a far smaller proportion of Merlot, Malvasia Nera, and Colorino. Fonterutoli’s award-winning Chianti Classico wines are matched by their grappa, olive oil and Tuscan cuisine. If tasting the wine barons’ vintages is not enough, then buy the estate lavender and natural Tuscan beauty products, created by Carla Mazzei, scion of the estate’s great wine dynasty. Stay for lunch or dinner at L’Osteria di Fonterutoli, the estate’s acclaimed restaurant.

    L’Enoteca, Castello di Fonterutoli (wine tastings and tours):
    0577 741790

    Address: Via Ottone III di Sassonia n°5, Loc. Fonterutoli I-53011 Castellina in Chianti (SI)

    Tel: +39 0577 73571

  • Eating & Drinking

    Given its proximity to both Siena and to the wealthy Chianti winelands, Castelnuovo Berardenga is a culinary hotspot. This is especially true of the tiny hamlets just north. San Gusme and neighbouring Villa a Sesta and San Felice form a foodie hotspot, with gourmet cuisine the norm, but not always at gourmet prices. See our San Gusme guide for additional options.

    It’s a similar story for wine, with the finest wines from the grandest estates, such as Brolio, on offer. But this being democratic Tuscany, homely inns and inexpensive Chianti Classico wines also make an appearance. The trademark on bottles of Chianti Classico is the Black Rooster (or Black Cockerel), the historic symbol of the Chianti Military League, depicted by Giorgio Vasari on the ceiling of the Salone dei Cinquecento at Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.

    Do remember that you are close enough to Siena to pop in for lunch or dinner. This is just a taster to the Chianti. See our restaurant recommendations below and also see our other guides to top Chianti towns and villages, all accessed through our Destinations listings.

  • L’Enoteca Bengodi

    Set in the centre of Castelnuovo, this friendly, reliable, mid-priced inn serves classic Tuscan dishes backed by Italian classics. After starters of Tuscan cold cuts or a platter of Pecorino and home-made jams, it might be onto or pumpkin soup, tagliolini pasta with asparagus and courgette flowers, or Parmesan risotto, a house speciality. Main courses range from wild boar stew to Florentine T-bone steak or veal in caper sauce. Wines, including non-Tuscans, can be served by the glass or by the bottle.

    Address: Via della Società Operaia 11,
    Castelnuovo Berardenga

    Tel: 0577 355116

  • L’Asinello

    This gourmet inn in Villa a Sesta, just north of Castelnuovo, provides good-value but creative fine-dining. Expect a surprising menu, attentive service, cosy atmosphere and charming terrace. Typical dishes feature unusual flavour combinations, such as gnocchi in a rabbit and broccoli sauce. Duck, pigeon, venison and quail are often on the menu but so are creative pasta dishes and curious vegetable combinations that work. The good-value tasting menu depends on the chef’s imagination.

    Address: Via Nuova 6,
    Localita Villa a Sesta,
    Castelnuovo Berardenga

    Tel: 0577 359279

  • Il Poggio Rosso

    Just north of San Gusme, this pricey, fine-dining restaurant specialises in creative Chianti cuisine and beyond, using only local, artisanal ingredients. Saffron from San Gimignano or spring onions from Certaldo find their way into imaginative dishes. Consider risotto with porcini mushrooms, goat’s cheese and cauliflower, or the seabass with artichokes and chick peas. This Michelin-starred gastro inn is only open for dinner but for simpler dining, choose the resort’s L’Osteria Del Grigio, which is also open for lunch.

    Address: Borgo San Felice,
    Localita San Felice,
    Castelnuovo Berardenga

    Tel: 0577 3964

  • L’Osteria del Castello

    Set about 13 km north of Castelnuovo Berardenga, this upmarket inn lies in Castello di Brolio, the ancestral castle estate of the Ricasoli wine dynasty. Combine a tour of the castle with lunch in the estate inn. Alternatively, the sunset tour of the castle includes dinner in the Ricasoli’s restaurant. Your castle ticket also allows for a free wine-tasting in the Ricasoli tasting rooms below the castle. With lunch, indulge in the Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 2006. Dishes are creative twists on traditional Tuscan cuisine. Along with classic Florentine-influenced meat dishes, expect more fish than found in most of the Chianti. Such dishes as olive gnocchi in pecorino sauce or rabbit salad with crispy spelt can also be paired with Ricasoli wines.

    Address: Castello di Brolio,
    Localita Madonna a Brolio,
    Gaiole di Chianti

    Tel: +39 0577 730 290

  • L’Osteria di Fonterutoli

    Set in a stone-built farmhouse overlooking the Chianti hills, west of Castelnuovo Berardenga, this is an upmarket gastro inn belonging to the Mazzei wine dynasty. The cooking is Tuscan with a contemporary touch, paired with Mazzei wines, especially those from the Castello di Fonterutoli estates. Chef Lorenzo Baldacci’s preference is game, including wild boar stew, along with more novel dishes, such as cheese flan or a pork and olive tapenade. A novel dessert includes the orange, vanilla and cocoa semifreddo.

    Address: Via Puccini 4,
    Localita Fonterutoli,
    Castellina in Chianti
    Tel: 0577 741125

  • Shopping

    Shopping in Castel Berardenga is limited beyond wine-estate visiting. For more varied shopping options head to neighbouring Gaiole, Radda, Castellina and, best of all, Siena for proper city shopping. If designer shopping outlets appeal, then consider driving into Siena and taking the shopping shuttle to the Valdarno area from there.

  • Il Castello di Brolio

    Castello di Brolio, a famous Chiantishire castle, lies between Castelnuovo Beradenga and Gaiole. The Brolio wine-tasting experience and gift shop can form part of a great day out, as does the route there. This is classic Chianti countryside, with its mix of vineyards, olive groves, oak and chestnut woods. Records attest to the Ricasoli family having been in wine since 1141 so count on buying some fine vintages and possibly even some lovely wine glasses. Along with Chianti Classico, the estate also produces Super Tuscans, such as Casalferro. Even so, the market leader in the Super Tuscan stakes is Ornellaia and Masseto, produced by the rival Frescobaldi wine barons. While at Brolio, book a visit to the castle cellars, tour the estate, taste the wines, and see the family museum.

    Address: Il Castello di Brolio
    Localita Madonna a Brolio
    Gaiole di Chianti

    Tel: +39 0577 730220

  • Felsina

    If you want to buy wine and oil at a renowned wine estate, without booking an appointment, then try Felsina. At this friendly, lovely-looking long-established wine estate you can just turn up. And often get a guided tour as well as a tasting. If you book, then you can also have a light meal of farm produces, such as cured meats, olive oil and wines. The estate is just north of Castelnuovo.

    Address: Via del Chianti 101
    Castelnuovo Berardenga

    Tel: 0577 1523789

  • Luxury designer outlets

    For a complete change of scene, designer shopping fans could head to the luxury outlets in the Valdarno area. The Mall Firenze is a thirty-minute drive east from Florence, on the Pontassieve road. There’s also a direct shuttle bus there from Siena. After browsing the designer brands, end your shopping experience in the Mall’s Gucci café and restaurant.

    Address: The Mall, Via Europa 8
    Leccio Reggello

    Tel: 055 8657775

  • Parking

    Castelnuovo is a 13 km twenty-five to thirty-minute minute drive from Siena along scenic roads. By car from Siena follow the SS73 and take the Castelnuovo Berardenga exit and then follow the SP7.
    If coming from Florence, take the Florence to Siena Superstrada/Raccordo Autostradale (also known as the RA3 highway) all the way to Siena (no tolls) and then do as above.

    The public parking in Castelnuovo Berardenga is on via della Vigna. Note that most Tuscan towns operate a strict ZTL system, a Limited Traffic Zone. This means that the Centro Storico (historic centre) is essentially closed to traffic, particularly for non-residents. Cars will need to be left outside the walls. That said, the Chianti towns are small so present far less trouble than such cities as Florence and Siena.

    Parking tips: for advice on individual Chianti places, please see our individual Destination guides.

    Advice on ZTLs: You may see other cars crossing the ZTL boundary (Limited Traffic Zone) and assume you can proceed. Not so. The drivers crossing into the ZTL zone will probably be locals and have residents’ permits. Visitors do not so are liable to fines. Zones are monitored by cameras, so tickets are issued immediately and automatically, as soon as (and each time) the car crosses the ZTL boundary.

  • Getting around

    The Chianti can be delightful driving country. Its appeal lies in the rolling countryside, array of vineyards and olive groves, relatively quiet roads, and the mix of small medieval towns. Public transport in the Chianti is rather sporadic so car hire makes the most sense if you want to explore the area properly. Driving in the Chianti can be deeply enjoyable experience, especially with a detailed map or GPS navigator to hand. For a great day out, try a customised tour with Chianti Taxi.

    Greve, the main gateway from the north, lies on the SR222, commonly known as the Chiantigiana, about 30 km south of Florence and 40 km north of Siena. From Greve, the scenic Chiantigiana meanders through the Chianti, passing through most of the typical villages. This is a charming route to take by day. At night, however, you might encounter wild boars, porcupines or deer crossing the road.

    From Florence and the Chiantigiana head towards Greve, then further south to Radda and Gaiole.  Or pick up the Florence-Siena Raccordo Autostradale highway (known as the RA) and take the San Donato in Poggio exit before following the SP101, which becomes the SP76.

    From Siena, leave town on the fast Florence-Siena Raccordo Autostradale highway (known as the RA), taking the Badesse exit for the SP 119, which becomes the SR222, the Chiantigiana. Or take the quieter, slower route from Siena: take the SR2, which becomes the more tranquil SR222 until Castellina and then onto Radda and Gaiole.

    By private tour: Chianti Taxi, a reliable Panzano-based transport service offers day-long private tours around the Chianti and beyond. These are customised tours that can take in everything from olive oil mills and wine estates to Pecorino farms and hand-painted ceramics. With his comfortable minivan, owner Daniele Mogni has the inside track on what you can do in the Chianti. It’s worth splashing out for a day so you can relax and drink your fill at the wine estates.

    Chianti Taxi. T: (+39) 389 8160050 &

    The Chianti by train: this is not an easy place to reach by rail. The train service barely touches Chianti's attractions, which is part of the reason why the area is so peaceful. The main Chianti station is Castellina in Chianti, which is on the Siena-Florence line but you need to change trains at Empoli.

    The Chianti by bus: Buses connect Florence to Greve and Panzano but end there. These buses often provide a more useful service than the trains but the confusing 365 bus service (T: 800373760, freephone only & still means that bus schedules are not always convenient and also operate a limited service on Sunday. Buses also connect Siena and Castellina: a Tiemme bus service (T: 0577 204111 & operates around 7 services a day.  Buses also connect Castellina and Radda: a Tiemme bus service (T: 0577 204111 & Buses also connect Siena and Gaiole: a Tiemme bus service (T: 0577 204111 &
    A Tiemme bus service (T: 0577 204111 & connects Siena and Castelnuovo Berardenga. In addition, bus 134 runs to both Castelnuovo Berardenga and San Gusmè.

    On your bike: The Chianti is a lovely place to explore by bike. The combination of romantic Tuscan scenery and challenging gravel roads is what makes it enjoyable. The cycling races in the region also attract big crowds. Whether as a spectator or a participant, L’Eroica is worth following. This renowned amateur event that allows cyclists from around the world to experience the region while riding classic bikes. For easier rides, see Chianti cycle rides from Castelnuovo.

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