When I was working for The Florence Newspaper we went to Monteriggioni for a meeting with one of our sponsors. A business trip in the hot summer turned into a day of swimming surrounded by the Senese countryside, but this is another story. Now I want to tell you about this pearl treasured within the Senese valleys: Monteriggioni
A picturesque hamlet frozen in time, perched on a hillock and crowned by incredibly well preserved medieval walls: this is Monteriggioni, where you will feel like you have gone back centuries in time. Or why not picture yourself in a modern video game? The village scenery inspired two episodes of the very popular “Assassin’s Creed.”
Going back in time, the famous poet Dante celebrated its 14 towers in his masterpiece “Divine Comedy” (Inferno, XXXI, 40-45), while yesterday’s prized filmmakers such as Monicelli (Dear Goddamned Friends), Zeffirelli (Tea with Mussolini), and Bertolucci (Stealing Beauty) wowed their public by including Monteriggioni’s amazing scenery in their movies.
This tiny village was erected to be a fortified outpost to monitor the crossing on the Cassia Road of Florence – the great enemy of Siena – but after three centuries, since The City of Lilies annexed all these territories, Monteriggioni and its castle lost their native function. Overlooking the Francigena Route, it became simply a pit stop for pilgrims walking from France to Rome to venerate St. Peter’s tomb.
Today, it is a must to enjoy the breathtaking landscapes from the walkways embracing the city. You will be struck by the surrounding slopes, where olives and vineyards grow. If you are lucky enough to be traveling by car or vespa, you will also have the chance to explore the entire area, which is punctuated by castles, churches, and other small villages, not to mention the so-called “Manhattan of Medieval Times”: San Gimignano and its towers.
You should not miss the ancient abbey Abbazia dell’Isola, dating back to 1000 A.D. and the museum of medieval weapons, even if while walking through the main square you will be probably tempted by mouth-watering specialties – such as Vernaccia white wine – calling you from the many rustic but refined taverns.
Local Tourist Office:
Piazza Roma 23
tel. +39 0577 30 48 34 / +39 0577 57 32 13
fax +39 0577 30 48 34
This was originally written for – and published by – The Florence Newspaper