Etruscan and Roman in origin, Castelnuovo Berardenga owes it name to a castle constructed at the end of the 14th century by the Republic of Siena. The communal territory extends across the hills of Chianti and the Crete Senesi and features a splendid landscape that, along with the presence of hot springs, has favored the development of human settlement, as indicated by the surviving traces of the past.
The territory amounts to 177.03 square kilometers (68.35 square miles) divided into two parts created by a narrowing of the Arbia valley at Pianella. The western part is entirely in the Chianti Classico zone and it is creased by a series of watercourses that empty into the Arbia. The eastern part, only half of which is located in the Chianti zone, extends along the banks of the Arbia and is crossed by the Ombrone.
The territory bears the name of the family of the noble Berardo, which, between the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 13th century, organized a domain based on the Monastery of San Salvatore, which the clan had founded. The abbey’s Romanesque ruins are today the area’s most important monument. At the beginning of the 13th century, the term Berardenga was commonly accepted as the name of the place and it was in that period that Siena began to secure control over the villages and castles under the jurisdiction of the Berardingas. That process continued until the beginning of the 14th century, when Berardenga became the residence of the vicar. In 1366, the citizen council of Siena approved the construction of a new castle located at the center of the zone. Castelnuovo Berardenga’s surroundings are rich in artifacts of the past. The memory of ancient religious associations is preserved in the parish churches of Asciata, San Felice and Pacina. Medieval elements survive in the “rectory” at Cerreto, in the churches at Querciagrossa, Catignano and Guistrigona and in the octagonal chapel of Sant’Ansano at Dofana. The two major monastic complexes in the zone are the monastery of San Salvatore and the Carthusian monastery of Pontignano. Castles are numerous in the zone. Among them are Querciagrossa, Aiola, Selvole, Pievasciata and Cerreto as well as Sesta and Cetamura, both in ruins, and San Gusmè, which has developed outside its walls to become, along with Vagliagli, the largest district in the zone. Traces of many other castles survive only in archival documents, while others still have been converted into villas.