Castello di Tornano

Gaiole in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Gail Simmons
A fairytale castle with historic rooms and apartments, delicious home cooking and an enchanting location in the wooded hills of Chianti
Think of Tuscany and you probably picture a romantic landscape of rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves, with fairytale castles sitting atop wooded hills. That’s Chianti in a nutshell. Now imagine yourself staying in one of these castles, enjoying delicious home cooking, locally-produced wine and lavishly furnished bedrooms. That’s the Castello di Tornano in a nutshell.

This castle-hamlet is the country home of the Selvolini family, who for years have offered simple apartments in the outhouses, and who more recently converted the main castle and tower to provide sumptuous guest rooms, including some fit-for-a-princess suites in the main tower. The surrounding countryside should inspire you to try some of the activities on offer: walks, horse-riding, tennis and cycling. If you’re feeling less energetic there is a swimming pool (unheated) built into the castle moat, plus a terrace where you can watch the sun set - ideally with one hand around your beloved and the other around a glass of Chianti.


  • A great sense of arrival, bumping through wooded hills to a rock-top castle - especially when it's lit up at night
  • Very comfortable, historic accommodation, for both couples and families
  • Lots to do in and around the estate - tennis, trekking, cycling, wine-tasting - while Siena is only 30 minutes away
  • Really delightful staff, and a refreshingly down-to-earth atmosphere (not always the case in restored Tuscan castelli)
  • Chef Manuele prepares lovely meals using fresh ingredients produced on the estate, and his cooking lessons get rave reviews


  • Property is currently closed until September 2016 due to storm damage
  • You’ll need a car - the nearest village is 6km away
  • There's little choice at dinner (though special diets can be accommodated)
  • Some bedrooms are dark and rather old-fashioned, while the sitting rooms feel rather formal (we can't imagine lounging there with a glossy magazine)
  • The drive is a steep gravel track (can be tricky in winter) and the castle can be hard to find

Best time to go

Summer in Tuscany is busy, but this is a haven from the crowds and heat (the pool helps). If you are planning to do some sightseeing then May-June or September-October will have fewer tourists yet reliably good weather. In the autumn you get the added benefit of the vendemmia, plus the gold/red colours of the turning vine leaves. The castello is ideal for a cosy winter break, though of course the pool is out of action.

Radda’s wine festival is the last weekend in May - where you can taste over 50 wines. Greve’s wine festival is the second weekend in September, with food and dancing to boot.

Our top tips

In the 19th century the castle belonged to Barone Ricasoli, Italy’s second premier and a renowned wine producer - it was he who developed the blend that became the Chianti we know and love today. The present owners have revived this tradition by farming 15 hectares of vineyards to produce thousands of bottles of Chianti (called Chianti Classico Castello di Tornano) per year. One of these will be served with your dinner each night, and you can buy the others, plus olive oil, vin santo and grappa (distilled from the residue of the wine-making process) from reception.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel & Apartments
  • 11 rooms + 8 apartments
  • Breakfast + dinner (on request); self-catering available
  • All ages welcome.
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
Room:  (Lancillotto e Ginevra)


The tower and castle double rooms range from cosy Classic Rooms to spacious Suites. All have a decidedly romantic flavour and opulent décor including heavy brocaded fabrics, oriental rugs, wrought iron beds (some four-posters or canopies), and a mix of genuine and repro antique furniture.

Reached by a winding staircase, the top-floor Tower Suite has stunning views from no fewer than 8 windows. If you suffer from vertigo, however, then opt for one of the lower rooms - the staircase gets windier and narrower as you climb the tower.

Bathrooms have been designed with particular flair and imagination to suit the luxurious feel of the place. Most have showers or tiled wet rooms, others have twin basins, and a handful of Superior Rooms have bathtubs instead.

The rustic apartments are around 50m away, in what feels like a private Tuscan hamlet. Ideal for families and more independent travellers, each has a kitchenette and private terrace with dining space. Expect quarry-tiled floors, exposed stone or brick, and old-fashioned comfy furniture. Most secluded is the Cottage, 100m from the castle, with its own garden (and alfresco Jacuzzi tub) surrounded by woodland.

Guests staying in an apartment or cottage have access to all the main facilities (pool, tennis courts, bicycles etc), except the tower’s rooftop terrace, which is reserved for B&B guests.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi


As an agriturismo, most of the food and drink served is produced on the estate itself. A 4-course set dinner is served on the bright veranda and includes an antipasto, a primi, a secondo and a dolce. We were served a primo of homemade fettuccine with a sausage and mushroom ragu; if that sounds good, you can learn how to make it with the chef. Secondo was a perfectly cooked beef dish served with mixed vegetables on a bed of rocket and wild leaves. Dolce was the Tuscan classic of vin santo and cantucci biscuits - though the dessert wine was not the usual sweet sticky brew but a crisp, amber nectar.

A generous buffet breakfast is also available - lots of local meats and cheeses, homemade cakes, pastries and biscuits, fresh cappuccino - though we would have preferred fresh rather than packaged ham and cheeses. You can take your loaded tray onto the terrace overlooking the valley below.

In the apartments and cottage, a kitchenettes have a fridge, stove and cooking utensils (though you'll need to bring all your own food and supplies), plus a terrace with tables and chairs for dining outside.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu


  • The castle can arrange mountain bikes and horse riding; book ahead for private horse-riding lessons, guided pony treks and self-guided cycle rides through the surrounding wooded hills
  • Or just head off on foot: the castle's estate is huge, or you can borrow a map (or, by arrangement, an English-speaking guide) if you want to venture further afield
  • Relax by the narrow swimming pool, built into the castle’s moat
  • Play tennis on the castle’s courts (free for guests) - you can borrow rackets and buy balls from reception
  • Let your kids loose in the gardens
  • Try wine tasting: this is the home of Chianti Classico and the castello is surrounded by world-renowned wine estates, including its own
  • Guests rave about the Tuscan cooking lessons with the castle's chef
  • Visit the nearby villages of Gaiole Castellina and Radda, with their medieval walls, winding streets and impressive civic buildings; they have a thriving (but not tacky) tourism industry, and a dwindling farming tradition
  • For a really romantic escape, book a ride in a hot-air balloon - staff can arrange it
  • If you (or your kids) like exploring castles, the medieval forts of Meleto, Vertine and Barbischio are all within 20km

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Tennis
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife
  • Wine tasting


Castello di Tornano welcomes children and the grounds offer plenty of opportunity for imaginative games of medieval knights.

The apartments and the separate Guarnellotto cottage are all great for families, sleeping up to 3 children as well as 2 adults. The prices given are per apartment regardless of occupancy.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Though the castle and tower rooms can hold extra beds and baby cots, we feel the apartments and Cottage are the best fit for families. The Two-Bedroom Apartments sleep 4 to 5 in a double and twin or triple room, but the Cottage is our favourite option, with a double and a twin, plus a private garden and Jacuzzi tub surrounded by woodland.


English-speaking babysitting is available by arrangement - book at least a week in advance

Baby equipment:

  • 2 cots
  • High chair
  • Baby bedding
  • Bottle warming

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There's a children's menu and half portions are available. Note that dinner is served late. Apartments have kitchenettes and there are takeaways and restaurants nearby

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool (in the moat, unfenced)
  • Mountain bikes for hire
  • Playground
  • Table tennis
  • Tennis courts

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Castles, towns and villages to visit
  • Guided pony trekking

Families Should Know:

The swimming pool isn't fenced and there are steps and unprotected drops around the castle. Some apartments have mezzanine floors with unprotected stairways


  • Airport: 1 hour
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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