The village of Giglio Castello is built within the walls of the Aldobrandeschi Fortress and, it would seem, into the very rock of the island. The twisting alleys negotiate jagged stones and dip beneath rugged arches. Apart from the arresting view of the surrounding sea (and occasionally of Isola d'Elba and Corsica on clear days) Giglio Castello has a surprise for art lovers - an ivory crucified Christ attributed to Giambologna - and for history lovers - a pistol left by Tunisian pirates attacking in 1799. Both can be found in the church of San Pietro.
At the end of September each year the usually very sedate village becomes a giant festa of wine, food and music. The protagonist is, undoubtedly, the local Ansonaco wine, only produced on this island. It is a robust white wine, almost amber in colour, with a sharp, dry taste and high alcohol content. Luckily there is plenty of food around to soak it up!
There is a rough itinerary around the cantine, starting with a magnificent aperitivo at Pizzeria Giglio, featuring verdure pastellate (deep fried vegetables) and little bruschette with typical Tuscan chicken liver patè. One bar tender here demonstrated his literal interpretation of the Italian 'alzare il gomito', lift the elbow, which refers to someone who likes to drink. He poured the Ansonaco wine from a 5 litre demijohn by resting it on his upper arm and, with a little contortion, leaning the bottle over to empty into a glass held in front.
An Italian festa would not be complete without some music and dancing, and after a little Ansonaco wine you might be bold enough to join in the traditional Quadriglia gigliese dance.