Castello del Trebbio - Confessions of a wine tourist

by Caesar Glebbeek

Castello del Trebbio, Santa Brigida, Tuscany. On 11 October 2001 I took an early train to Sieci (one stop away from Pontassieve) and started the uphill walk to Castello del Trebbio. It was yet another gorgeous, sunny autumn morning (probably the hottest day of that month) with not a cloud in the sky. Perfect! The charming Trebbio castle (built in the 12th Century by the Pazzi family), located a few kilometres before the town of Santa Brigida, is the headquarters of the Castello del Trebbio estate (300 ha) where they produce nearly 300,000 bottles of vino (plus Extra Virgin olive oil) annually. They make about four different Chianti's, one Bianco (IGT), a Super Tuscan called "Pazzesco" (IGT; a mix from merlot, sangiovese and syrah), and also a Vin Santo. The castle (beautifully restored) is currently owed privately and unfortunately can't be visited inside, but its wine cellar is open to the public and you can taste (and buy) all their products. A few days before my visit to the castle I had bought a "Trebbio Chianti Riserva" 1996 for just 8,280 Lires in the local Coop in Pontassieve, and I was perfectly happy with its contents for so few Lires. The tastings and sales are in a large hall (12th Century). I decided only to taste the "Pazzesco" 1997 (nice but not spectacular; Lires 38,000) since it was a bit too early to indulge in a marathon tasting session as I had a few hours of walking still ahead of me in extremely hot conditions. The guard/gardener (a jolly character, sporting a mustache which must have taken many years to grow!) of the castle then took me down for a quick tour in the cellars. Done with the castle itself, one of the staff members suggested a walk up to the nearby Sanctuary of the "Madonna della Grazie al Sasso" (built in the year 1490). More sweating, as this meant ascending to 566 meter. But it's worth just for the grand views from the sanctuary over the entire valley below. On the way down I decided to have a quick look around in the town of Santa Brigida and get a cool refreshment. I passed the first bar (which was closed) in town where a bunch of men were sitting outside. One of them gave a quick impression of Pavarotti! I applauded and continued my walk to the main square of the sleepy village where I eventually got my drink. On the way back I once again passed the first bar, which had since reopened. The singing Italian spotted me and asked, "Why did you not visit our bar?" "Because it was closed!" I replied. "Well, maybe you will visit us a next time then?" Not a bad idea as Santa Brigida offers many fine walking possibilities and there are still plenty vino-related sights to be enjoyed in this quiet, green area where few tourists appear to head out to. * Walking tip: from the castle to the sanctuary (approximately 45 minutes): continue on the road to Santa Brigida, and at the outskirts of the town take the narrow (signposted) uphill track which will take you to the sanctuary via an ancient forest track.

  • Opening hours. Castello del Trebbio: Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 12:00 and 14:00 to 18:00, and the first Sunday of every month from 10:00 to 12:30 and 14:00 to 18:00. Madonna della Grazie al Sasso: always open.