This was our 3rd visit to Chianti in less than year. Again we stayed in Casa dell Olio, in Borgo Montefienali, and loved it (see my previous review on this site - definitely to be recommended if you want a self-catering break in a picturesque, tranquil location). Again we visited the surrounding, picturesque hillside towns and hamlets and loved it.
To ring the changes and include our princess-obsessed daughter (and some how manage a brief wine-tasting with her in tow) we booked a guided tour of the castello at the Castello di Meleto wine estate, just outside Gaiole in Chianti, followed by a light lunch and wine-tasting in their tasting centre and wine-shop.
Having been to Meleto before, and seen the rather drab, forbidding grey-stone exterior of the castello, we weren't sure what to expect.
There was no need to for concern as we discovered when Gabriella took us on a not-too-short-not-too-long, informative and very relaxed tour of what turned out to be a hidden gem! Like an architectural tardis, the unwelcome exterior conceals a beautifully restored Baroque-Rococo interior of trompe l'oeil embellished walls, and rooms connected by quirky doorways, framed by faux marble and shut with apparently badly hung doors (these were in fact designed to facilitate sound travelling easily from one room to another, and prevent secrets being kept, in the time of the Florence-Siena wars). The renaissance era castle fortification is contructed around a central tower, that has been dated to around 1000AD, and was the seat of one half of the Ricasoli baronial family, who still have a seat in the area.
The highlight of the tour is definitely the little theatre, constructred in 1740, for the family who owned the estate, and inhabited the castello, from the 1400's until 1962.
After a tour of the castle, and the new, contemporary, soon-to-be-opened tasting centre in the former cellars, we enjoyed a light lunch of pasta alla pomodoro, bruschetta, salumi and formaggio in the current tasting centre (the restaurant was closed for, but will re-open soon).
It did help, I suspect, that we were the only visitors on a drab, cold February Saturday, and that Gabriella was so welcoming to our child, but even so it made for a memorable day for all of the family.
And if you wish to dine there or even stay overnight, visit www.castellomeleto.it to make enquiries.
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