A medieval castle towering above mountainous forests and lush, rolling vineyards expresses the speechless poetry of Montalcino, and endows Castello Banfi's wines with more than a millennium of history and romance.
The origin of the fortress can be traced to the ancient Etruscans, but its deepest historical niche was carved during the Middle Ages. The Renaissance Romanesque structure served as the Republic of Siena's first line of defense against attack from the south and, in 1260 A.D., it was awarded to Placido Placidi, hero of the "Battle of Montaperti," which was immortalized by Dante in the "Divine Comedy." The castle's historical name is Poggio alle Mura.
Today, Castello Banfi is the crown of a 7,100 acre viti-vinicultural estate. Estate-bottled wines that are being produced today include: ExcelsuS, SummuS, Cum Laude, Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio all'Oro Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino, Tavernelle Cabernet Sauvignon, Colvecchio Syrah, Mandrielle Merlot, Fontanelle Chardonnay, Serena Sauvignon Blanc, San Angelo Pinot Grigio and FloruS Moscadello di Montalcino, a dessert wine.
For countless thousands of visitors the castle offers a museum of wine and glass dedicated to Banfi's founder, Giovanni F. Mariani. Central to the property is a medieval castle meticulously restored as a hospitality center, hosting visitors at the Taverna Banfi for lunches and dinners of traditional local dishes, an its enoteca-come-wine bar serving tasting plates of artisan regional breads, cheeses and salumi to pair with a selection of estate wines by the glass. For those wishing to linger and be nurtured by our Tuscan hospitality, a limited number of luxury rooms and suites are available at Castello Banfi – Il Borgo, a hillside hamlet nestled alongside the castle keep. Peach and plum orchards, olive groves, vineyards, havens of truffles and mushrooms, and woods teeming with wild game make the property virtually self-sustaining.
Among the auxiliary buildings is a private chapel, yet the castle is only a short distance from the Abbey Sant Antimo, built by Charlemagne, king of the Franks, early in the 9th century as an expression of thanks to God for sparing him and his troops from a plague then raging through Italy. The church is staffed to this day by Augustinian monks whose Gregorian chants remind post-Vatican II faithful of a more glorious liturgical age.
Throughout the Middle Ages, Castello Banfi played a strategic role in numerous battles between the Sienese and invading powers. Atop the parapet guarding the castle's entrance - and still in good repair - is a "bertesca," a formidable shield of stone that protected Sienese knights as they poured cauldrons of scalding oil on such adversaries as the Aldobrandeschi, the Guelphs of Florence, the Spaniards, the French and the forces of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
Prisoners of these wars were confined in a dungeon, now the castle's wine cellar. Two human skulls, obviously deemed unfit for Christian burial, rest in an alcove off the cellar's dark, winding stairwell to serve as a reminder of those parlous times; so do swords, pikes, helmets and breastplates that have decorated the castle's walls since the 15th century when they were replaced by newer armament, guns and cannons. Four vintage cannons still guard the terra-cotta-tiled reception court.
Other wine cellar appointments are ancient grape and olive presses and Etruscan tools, bowls and vases whose inscriptions in that long-dead language continue to defy translation.