Hotel Castello di Fonterutoli

An ancient wine estate in the Chianti Classico with rooms scattered throughout the medieval hamlets

In the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region, at the top of a rise along the road from Castellina to Siena, is the village that has been home to the Mazzei marquises since 1435.

The forgotten U.S. founding father from Tuscany
Just down the main street, across from the enoteca (wine bar) that serves the estate’s fine wines, is a shop window displaying something seemingly quite odd: an enlarged copy of a 40¢ U.S. postage stamp.

It says “Philip Mazzei, Patriot Remembered” and honors family ancestor Filippo Mazzei, one of the unsung fathers of the United States

In 1773, the Tuscan doctor and merchant decided to bring viticulture to Virginia. He moved to a farm just south of that owned by one Thomas Jefferson, and soon became a fervent supporter of the American revolutionary movement.

In a series of firebrand letters published in The Virginia Gazette (translated from the Italian by his multitalented neighbor Thomas Jefferson), wrote that “All men are, by nature, equally free and independent”—a sentiment later paraphrased by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

Filippo’s adventures continued in Poland, Russia, and France, but most of the Mazzei clan was happy to remain in Tuscany, tending their 289 acres of vineyards as they have for 24 generations.
Fonterutoli is a wonderful example of the kind of old, centralized aristocratic agricultural estate that has vanished from much of Italy, preserved largely because the Mazzei still own, operate, and inhabit it.

Of course, these days it no longer take a village of peasants to run even a large farm, so the Mazzei have converted several of the old houses into rental apartments and B&B rooms and installed a swimming pool with vineyard views.

Rates vary according to season and room size. Rooms at the B&B are available by the night, but the apartments require a minimum stay of two nights (three if one happens to be a Saturday)—and in summer the management favors weeklong stays.

Apartments in the main village

Three of the apartments share the elongated village square with the family villa and San Miniato church.

The lodgings are simple and genuine: large rooms with stone walls, working fireplaces, open-beamed ceilings, and terracotta floors filled with nondescript, slightly battered furnishings that are old without being antique—very homey.

The B&B in the main village

A fourth unit, named Roseto for the rose bushes climbing its walls, occupies the upper story of the house just off the piazza where the current marquis’s grandchildren live.

Inside it’s an odd but pleasing mix of post-modern, antique, and Asian décor, and while it can be rented as an apartment for a party of six, it usually operates as a three-room B&B.

Skylights in the common room and large kitchen and well-placed windows throughout fill the place with sun, and each double bedroom has its own bathroom and private entrance. There’s also a private pool for Roseto residents in a tiny slate-covered courtyard.

More apartments in the satellite hamlet of Il Caggio

There are three more apartments—named after local grapes and wines: Galestro, Malvasia, and Sangiovese—located a mile and a half from the main village in the satellite hamlet of Il Caggio, home to several farm workers and Fonterutoli’s wine cellars. Other than their lack of washing machines and slightly lower rates, there’s little to set these lodgings apart from the ones up in the village; they even get their own swimming pool.

The restaurant

Just across the main Chianti road—which leads seven miles south to Siena and thirty miles north to Florence—from the hamlet is an old outbuilding now housing the upscale Osteria di Fonterutoli.

This restaurant serves all the Mazzei wines by the glass and a mix of local classics such as pici al ragù di cinto (hand-rolled fat spaghetti with a ragù made with pork from the belted Sienese pig) and imaginative riffs on traditional dishes.

Order the tagliata dell’Osteria and strips of raw steak are brought to the table along with a blistering hot conical lava rock on which you cook the meat to your liking.

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Hotel Castello di Fonterutoli
Loc. Fonterutoli, Castellina in Chianti
tel. +39-0577-741-385

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