Montalto Castle

The castle of Montalto is easily reacheable from Siena following the indications for Castelnuovo Berardenga/Arezzo along SS73 and then on the S540 toward Monastery of Ombrone

The origins of Montalto are uncertain, probably it has risen on the site of an ancient Etruscan settlement. The original nucleus of the castle, at dominion of the important Roman road that crossed the whole Valdambra up to the Valdarno, was built by the counts of the Berardenga. Descending from Winigisio, a vassal of Charles Magno, responsible was also for the construction of the near monastery of Fontanabuona, that then became Abbadia San Salvatore of Ombrone.

Perhaps the castle existed already in the 9th century, but the first documents mentioning it are dated 1063. Stronghold on the border between the Sienese and Florentine territory, always faithful to Siena in the secular argument, the castle of Montalto was destroyed and reconstructed many times. Great damage was caused by the Battle of Montalto, fought here in 1208, during which the Florentines, on the way home from the siege of Montepulciano, levelled the castle to the ground. The Sienesis rebuilt Montalto immediately, in documents of the year 1266 it is again mentioned as 'walled castle', and the castle remained under the ownership of the Berardenga family up to the 15th century, when its strategic importance decreased. In this century Montalto was egulfed in the possessions of the Sienese Republic and in 1456 it was granted as a fief to Giovanni Palmieri whose family, between alternate circumstances, maintained the control of it until the year 1572.

Until the beginning of our century the castle didn't suffer destruction or great restorations, and slowly became a rural construction. Today's aspect is due to the reconstruction in style that brought Montalto to its the original shine the tall and mighty tower of the main gate, the embattled walled curtains, the chapel, the two gates (still endowed with breteche) and the great palace, formerly the keep of the ancient castle. In the 1960s the phenomenon of depopulation of the countries affected also this area: today Montalto is inhabited only from the actual owners and some dependent of the homonym agricultural firm and agrituristical estate.

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