Bolgheri e Castagneto Carducci
Bolgheri, those five kilometres of ancient cypress trees remembered by Carducci as “tall and upright in double rows,” is located inland from the Etruscan Coast, less than 10 km from the sea and a half-hour drive from Viareggio.
This tiny, exquisite village has leapt into the international elite tourism limelight in the last thirty years, making a name for itself as a famed wine-making region, as well as a place of charmed lifestyle—which, rather quietly (something highly appreciated in certain circles), brings together the very best of the Tuscan good life: wine, hillside, an ideal climate, aristocratic appeal, and the sea.
Having passed the famous Viale dei Cipressi¸ the cypress-lined boulevard perpendicular to the sea that leads directly to the village, next are the cellars of the San Guido Estate of marquis Incisa della Rocchetta, where the renowned red wine Sassicaia is produced (to book a visit, phone: 0565 749 768).
Approaching the village, you begin to make out the captivating red-brick castle of Bolgheri through the trees, so beautiful and perfect it seems lifted from the pages of a fairy tale. Leave your car in the small pay parking lot that you’ll find on the right. A few steps on (ideal for a few lovely snapshots) you will find yourself directly in front of the tower and gates to the village.
Just above the doors, notice the large coat of arms of the della Gherardesca Counts, the ancient noble family who inhabited the castle going back to 1200. Just beyond the splendid castle, the village centre starts, and it’s here you will find the not-to-miss terracotta productions of Gabriele Fantozzi, at via Lauretta 12/a; and the Enoteca Tognoni, at number 5 on the same street, where all the exceptional red wines of this area are available, also by the glass.
From the end of town, take the unpaved road on the left for a pleasant, brief stroll past the vineyards and knotty olive trees belonging to the Gherardesca family farmhouses.
The surrounding countryside produces some of the best Tuscan wines, prized throughout the world. In addition to Sassicaia, considered one of the finest red wines available (and as such is among the most expensive), there are also Bolgheri Superiore, Bolgheri Rosso, Ornellaia, as well as some excellent white wines, such as Vermentino and Bolgheri Bianco. More than thirty area producers make up the Bolgheri Doc Consortium, which guarantees the absolute quality of their products.
Every year in July and August the Bolgheri Melody Festival takes place, an event rich in music, theatre, and dance. Most of the events are held in a large arena located at the start of the viale dei Cipressi.
Along the road that winds from Bolgheri through olive groves, vineyards, farmed fields and manor houses, next is Castagneto Carducci, where the poet Giosuè Carducci lived during his childhood. Park outside the town, and just as you start to walk up to the town centre, take a moment to enjoy the view of the sea.
Then continue on to via Vittorio Emanuele, the ancient heart of this town, lined with various workshops and stores.
Along the streets of Castagneto, many details recall the town’s medieval origins: family crests, arches, decorations, and capitals added during later constructions.
Mick Jagger, Kate Moss and Sarah Jessica Parker are but a few of the international jet set known to love this stretch of upper Maremma, just a stone’s throw from the sea.
In 2010, Jagger stopped in Castagneto to order Maremma style jackets (as well as the “Lucca” model) from Florin Cristea, a traditional tailor whose shop Arte e moda is located at 50 via Vittorio Emanuele.