|The ruins of the keep coming out
from the wood.
||The interior of the keep.
What remains of the castle rise on the crest of
a relief at the border between the Chianti and the Valdarno. From Florence
Montegrossi can be reached leaving A1 to the exit 'Valdarno' and then
from Montevarchi following the indications to Cavriglia-Gaiole. After
about fifteen kilometers, just before the road begins to come down toward
Gaiole, we will find on the left the road signals that brings us to the
The castle of Montegrossi, also
known as Montegrossoli, was the sentinel and last rampart of the medieval
feudal system constituted in the Chianti region. Erected at around 700
meters high on the crest of the last relief of the small mountain chain
on the border between the territories of the Chianti and the Valdarno,
perennial object of disputes between Florence and its enemies, the castle
dominates the pass and the road that connects the two areas and also a
big part of the valleys from both sides.
|Other view of the keep.
The first notices of the small fortress are of the year
1007, in 1172 it was conquered and destroyed by the Florentine that wanted
to free their movements in the zone from a big obstacle. After few years
the rests of the castle became fief of the Firidolfi family, that took
care of its reconstruction. There are notices that these vassals also
used Montegrossi as base for actions of brigandage and looting of the
caravans direct to Florence. A little afterwards the castle entered to
make part, as important stronghold, of the chain of fortifications wanted
by the emperor Barbarossa from the Chianti to Fucecchio, in the low Valdarno,
to control central Tuscany. But a few years later, during the war between
the League of the Tuscan Communes and the imperial armies, the Florentines
took again posses of the castle. Montegrossi was strengthened and, due
to its strategic importance, was gifted of a permanent garrison.
|gate of the keep.
In the following centuries Montegrossi was many times
with great fury besieged. The strongest attacks were brought first by
the Aragonese Army in 1478 and then in 1530 from the army of Charles V�
that leveled definitely the castle to the ground, to avoid that the defeated
Florentine Republic was once able to use it again as point of strength
of the Chianti. Since then the ruins of Montegrossi were abandoned, but
on the crest of the mountain still rises the mighty keep surrounded by
the walls, unfortunately only shed stones in the vegetation, of the fortified
enclosure. On the keep we can be still able to notice the beautiful gate
of access, at a raised level from the ground, and at the interior the
capitals of stone that sustained the batten of the attic. In the northern
part, the residence for the garrison, we can see in some locals the rests
of the stone ceiling. Unfortunately the whole complex is in serious risk
of ulterior collapses, so much that also a visit could be dangerous. To
reach the ruins is necessary to leave the car and to follow a path that
departs from the wood on the left of the last curve of the asphalted road
that brings to the small suburb of Montegrossi.
Despite its scarce rests the presence of the castle cannot
pass even today unobserved to whom transits from the Valdarno to
the Chianti or viceversa. The better view we can have of it is from the
near Coltibuono Abbey, site on the Arno valley slope of the pass, while
to realize what was the strategic importance of Montegrossi all it takes
is climbing 'til the ruins and let space the view to 360 degrees. Today
the castle shows its northern side on an artificial precipice provoked
by a cave of stone, that has also defaced the surrounding landscape.
|The lodgings for the woods of the
||The front with the gate to the keep.
||One of the stone vaults remained
inside the palace.