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.
Testa felina (feline head), Tumulus of Montecalvario (7th to 6th century, B.C.): the head of a threatening cat, its mouth half-open, set to defend the northern tomb.
Carro etrusco (Etruscan chariot), Tumulus of Montecalvario (late 7th-early 6th century, B.C.): this cart was perhaps the most significant element of the funerary articles found in one of the four tombs in the Tumulus of Montecalvario, and is an artifact of extraordinary beauty and rarity, for very few objects of this kind have been found in all of northern Etruria.
Anfore attiche a figure nere (Attican amphorae with black figures), Necropolis of Poggino (late 6th century, B.C.): these precious wine-containers, used during the artistocratic ritual called the symposium, demonstrate through their decoration the way that the Etruscan élite emulated the culture of the Ancient Greeks.
Archaeological Museum of the Sienese Chianti
Piazza del Comune 17/18
53011 – Castellina in Chianti
Tel: 0577 742090
OPENING HOURS – DECEMBER 2022
regular: € 5,00
reduced: € 3,00
children under 6 years
group and special tickets available
Sitting on a hilltop, Castellina overlooks the valleys of three rivers, the Arbia, the Elsa and the Pesa, which flow through the territory contested for centuries by Siena and Florence. Historically one of the major centres of the League of Chianti, the rectangular-shaped Medieval town has only two city gates—”Porta a Siena” and “Porta a Firenze”. Rising over the centre is the ancient, imposing castellated fortress, designed by Giuliano da Sangallo. In modern times, it served as the Town Hall until 2006, when it became the headquarters of the museum. Today it still hosts the Sala del Consiglio, the Council Chamber. The town’s layout came to incorporate the lengths of turreted defensive walls built at the behest of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Rising inside are noteworthy palazzi from the 1400s and 1500s, such as Palazzo Ugolini, with the bossage masonry of its façade, and the Church of San Salvatore, in neo-Romanesque style, home to an important fresco by Lorenzo di Bicci (late 14th century). Well worth seeing is the Via delle Volte, a late-Medieval vault-covered structure that served as a “tunnel” for military operations.