There is an area of Tuscany that offers the traveler breath taking beauty. It affords the traveler a challenging terrain of mountains and valleys combined with a maze of winding roads which if stretched straight could possibly reach from this earth to heaven. But they do not need to be stretched for they wend their way through vineyards and olive groves, villages and past villas and castles. This is the Chianti region of Tuscany, a region some believe is “heaven on earth”. This is an area of Tuscany which is steeped in the history and traditions of the Middle Ages and of the conflict between Florence and Siena.
Situated among the rolling hillsides of Gaiole in Chianti is the historic castle of Castello di Spaltenna . As you enter into the courtyard of Castello di Spaltenna you pass the entrance of Pieve di Spaltenna (Santa Maria di Spaltenna), a small church dating back to the 11th. Century. Pausing to look into the chapel, we are taken with the simplicity of its Romanesque architecture. As we check in, we learn that Spaltenna was once a medieval monastery connected to the Pieve. What was once the cloister of the monastery serves today as a welcoming courtyard to the hotel.
As we were taken to our room, we could not help but appreciate the beauty of the medieval architecture surrounding us. Our room, complete with canopied bed afforded us a unique feature. It had a small window overlooking the altar of the Pieve di Spaltenna and a kneeling bench so prayers could be offered while viewing the church's altar.
Perhaps this had been the room of the priest when Spaltenna had been an active monastery.
After “settling in”, we strolled the beautiful grounds and enjoyed the roses and the many floral gardens as well as the views of vineyards and mountains. The quiet and relaxed beauty was striking.
Dinner that evening was in Il Pievano , an absolutely marvelous restaurant at Castello di Spaltenna The dinner menu offered such wonderful selections as: Pappardelle di farro al sugo di fagiano in infusione di alloro broccoli e tartufi (Pappardelle pasta made of spelt with pheasant ragout flavoured with bay leaf, broccoli and truffle) or Filetto di Rombo arrosto con capperi di Pantelleria indivia brasata e pappa al pomodoro all'olio extravergine di oliva (Roasted fillet of turbot with capers from Pantelleria endives and pappa al pomodoro).
For desert choices included, but were not limited to Tartelletta di Zucca e mandorle con gelato al bianco latte e amaretti (Tart of pumpkin and almonds with ice cream of milk and almonds) and Lacrima di ricciarelli avvolta da un velo di cioccolato, il cannolo al panforte di Siena e il gelato al panpepato
The food was prepared to an excellent standard and the service was perhaps the finest we have ever had. Enjoying dinner at Spaltenna is a marvellous way to spend an evening. The wine steward paired an excellent choice of wines to be served with our dinners. Spaltenna's wine cellar offers the widest range of wines...fantastico.
Some say that in real estate, location is everything. To us who travel, location is also important and Spaltenna offers its visitors an ideal location from which you can enjoy superb day trips. As an example, just a short ride from Castello di Spaltenna is the medieval borgo of Vertine, complete with its original tower, walls and gates.
The other side of the valley from Spaltenna and a short drive through the winding country roads of Chianti is Volpaia, a small village perched atop the mountain. Dating back to circa 1172, Volpaia is home to some of the finest Chianti Classico. After a stroll through this beautiful medieval village a relaxing lunch on the terrace of the Osteria di Volpaia is in order. Our suggestion would be that you enjoy a frittata with a glass of Bianco di Volpaia.
A trip to Villa Vignamaggio, the estate that was home to the Mona Lisa and the film location for “Much Ado About Nothing” is another must for day trips from Castello di Spaltenna. Here you will enjoy gardens and magnificent views across the vineyard covered hillsides. Our suggestion is that you phone ahead for a reservation to tour the gardens and the wine cellars.
Located near Spaltenna, Badia a Coltibuono was formerly a Benedictine monestary. You will enjoy a well-ordered monastic garden and magnificent views of the countryside. Stop by the ristorante and enjoy a dish of some of the most delicious lemon-basil sorbet ever made.
Home to the Ricasoli family, Castello di Brolio, is also home to the now famous Chianti Classico. It is widely acclaimed that here, at Brolio, Baron Bettino Ricasoli developed the formula for Chianti Classico wine. The castle, surrounded by huge fortress like walls provides visitors with commanding views of valleys and vineyards Plan your trip around lunch time and enjoy a delightful dining experience at the Osteria del Castello. The menu offers traditional Tuscan dishes which will be a delight to your taste buds.
Castello di Spaltenna is a historic castle steeped in the finest of traditions of Chianti. Its rooms, service, restaurant and wine cellar are second to none. Its pool and outdoor dining make it the best of both worlds...a fine resort hotel and a great location to enjoy the surrounding areas of Chianti country.
Edie and Dave