The stone storybook-looking Meleto Castle enjoys an idyllic setting among vines and olive groves, surrounded by woods. What began as a monastery for the nearby Abbey of Coltibuono, grew and became a full-fledged castle along a strategic route linking Chianti and the Upper Valdarno. The building was founded in the 11th century by monks, but from 1256 onward was referred to as Meleto in Chianti, a holdin gof the Firidolfi da Meleto family. It underwent several alterations in the course of its history, but retains beautiful both its defensive features and its elegance as a regal residence.

Located along the hotly contested borderlands between Siena and Florence, Meleto was caught in the crosshairs of many battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines. Interestingly, the estate's archives were preserved intact and give a fascinating look at the history of a noble estate, including documentation of workers, the lords and owners, and the running of the vineyards.

Guided tours of the castle are offered daily at 11:00 and 3:00; the half-hour visit takes you inside to see the halls, furnishings and frescoes, as well as the miniscule plush theater and the underground wine cellars. You can also reserve wine tasting or olive oil tasting sessions. The enoteca is also open to enjoy a glass of wine and Tuscan cheese and salami in the historic cellars.

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Address in Gaiole in Chianti:

Castello di Meleto.

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