Set in the heart of Chianti and in the centre of the Medieval town of Castellina, the museum retells the ancient history of Chianti through a fine collection of archaeological material and data gathered from the four municipalities on the Sienese side of the territory: Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Radda in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga.
The museum’s entrance, designed as an extension of the piazza outside, welcomes visitors with projected images that introduce the content of the museum and give glimpses of local archaeological itineraries. The museum’s sections correspond to the different periods that were fundamental to the transformation of the Chianti countryside, as documented by archaeological research and discoveries. Starting with the presence some 4,000 years ago of shepherds who moved season to season in search of pastures, a walk through the museum continues with Chianti at the time of the Etruscan Princes (late 7th-early 6th century B.C.) who created the imposing Tumulus of Montemalvario just outside the city gates of Castellina, proud testament to the power of the Princes. The subsequent period (4th-3rd century B.C.), characterized by the spread of fortified habitations built on elevated locations (Cetamura, Poggio la Croce), conclude the Etruscan history of Chianti. Each room of the museum includes multimedia projections (films, photographs and animations on a screen) that illustrate and describe the artifacts on display and the places where they were unearthed. Well worthy of note is the discovery of semi-burnt seeds found at Poggio La Croce in Radda in Chianti, mostly likely used during a ritual celebrating the establishment of the village, which demonstrates the presence as far back as 2,300 years ago of the “vitis vinifera” (common grapevine) in the Chianti region.
The visit proceeds to the Medieval Rocca that was the Republic of Florence’s stronghold in the centuries-long dispute with the Republic of Siena, and served as headquarters to the Commander of one of the terzieri(subdivisions) of the League of Chianti. Climbing to the top of the Tower, visitors are treated to a magnificent view of the town centre, of the Chianti hills and, on clear days, of the countryside that stretches all the way to a distant horizon, taking in the greater part of central Tuscany.