The Castle of Grotti can be reached via the highway SS223/E78 Siena-Grosseto. The best exit is not the one marked for Grotti, which is actually a small dirt country road winding through thick woods, but the exit for Casciano di Murlo. Turning left at the T-junction, just before reaching the village, there are several visible signs to the castle.
The Castle of Grotti is located in the hills south of Siena, in a very panoramic position overlooking the Crete and the Val d’Orcia. The castle stands on the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement. It is first found mentioned in a document from 1221 as the birthplace of Orlandino di Azzo, a rich businessman of the 13th century. Later property of the noble Urgurgeri family, it was then conquered and destroyed by the Austro-Hispanic army during the last war against Siena and Montalcino, along with the other properties on the castle grounds and the near Strine Tower.
The castle has an imposing U-shaped body, halfway between a stronghold and a tower. In the 19th century, it was used as a country residence by the Marquis Nerli before being bought by the Piccolomini family sometime in the last century. It now houses a foundation named after the painter Sergio Vacchi, which organizes exhibitions, concerts, plays and other relevant cultural events.
The Castle is surrounded by a large garden, partly landscaped
as a formal Italian garden and partly landscaped as an English country
garden, a unique example in the whole region of Siena. The Castle is also
located at the centre of a renowned agricultural estate that produces
world-famous extra-virgin olive oil. The 16th century stables, with columns
and vaulted ceiling, and the lemon-house are nowadays used as banquet
halls for weddings and other events. The 19th century Villa Ballati, a
building of great historical value, has been restored respecting all the
original features of the property and is now a large vacation rental overlooking
the garden of the castle.