Monteriggioni in Tuscany, Italy is one of the most incredible and representative Tuscan villages of the medieval period. Because it is less talked about, we at toscanainside.com are happy to share our knowledge and inform you of the things to do and visit in Monteriggioni, first of all its medieval castle.
During your tour of Tuscany we, therefore, suggest amongst the various essential stages and the cities of art, a trip to Monteriggioni. Siena, at the beginning of the 13th century, built the so-called Mons Regionis in defense of its western region; in other words, the Siena inhabitants wanted to defend themselves from the threats of the enemy Florence. At the time, its imposing walls were probably much higher, so much that they even struck a chord with Dante. In the XXXI Canto of Hell, the poet arrives with Virgil in the ninth circle of the Well of the Giants and compares this vision to that of the castle of Monteriggioni. If Dante had dedicated his invaluable verses to remember this place, at this point, how could you ignore it? If, however, you do not have the soul of a poet and prefer to enjoy a good movie, you should know, then, that certain scenes of the film The English Patient and the Gladiator (and also of certain commercials such as that of the Banco di San Polo with Vittorio Gassman or that of Citroën with Claudia Schiffer!) were filmed in Monteriggioni!
A castle built by the Republic of Siena and a strategic point of control of passages on the Via Francigena, Monteriggioni soon became a coveted Tuscan stronghold. Dante tells us in the 13th canto of Purgatory, through the voice of the Siena noblewoman Sapia Salvani, of the tough battle that took place in 1269 between Siena and Florence (known as the Battle of Colle), which saw the victory of the latter and the subsequent siege of the Monteriggioni castle. The walled town of Monteriggioni has long been disputed between the two Tuscan cities, but it has always recognized itself, faithfully, in its Siena origins. In the period between the 15th and 16th century Florentines continued to rage on the town with sieges and bombardments: after a first defeat in which the Siena inhabitants had managed to defend themselves, in 1555 the official domain of the Medici was established over the town of Monteriggioni. Siena, unable to resist further, saw his citizens subject to the hegemony of Florence until the following century, when it was relinquished again and finally to the families of Siena.
Once in Monteriggioni, what is there to see as evidence of this illustrious past of battles and sieges? Certainly its walls alternating with imposing towers! We suggest you take a walk along the old walkways on the walls, just as if you were soldiers on patrol controlling the horizon! Or you might just want to enjoy the horizon over the Val d’Elsa and Chianti! This village is especially unique thanks to its former defensive function against the city of Siena and, from the top of the walls, you will discover its undeniable majesty and grandeur over the surrounding territory.
When visiting Monteriggioni and deciding what to see in Monteriggioni within its walls, we recommend that you enter from the mighty Porta Romea, to arrive in Piazza Roma, where the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption is located: This church was built in 1213, the year Monteriggioni was founded. In addition to the church, there is the 'Monteriggioni in Arme' Museum where you can have fun with the armours (you can even try some on!) and where you can read some more information on the many battles between the Guelphs and Ghibellines that occurred in the area.
Visiting Monteriggioni is to take a journey back in time which combines military elements and religious places of great artistic interest. For this reason, we at toscanainside.com suggest you visit the places of worship in this ancient village. Your tour of Monteriggioni should include the Church of Santa Maria in Castello. This church is certainly the most representative of the medieval character of the town: dating back to the 13th century, its elegant and simple façade is structured in a single arrangement. Although the interior, however, has been restored throughout the ages, this church should also be seen from the outside to fully understand its old style; the interiors of the Baptistery of San Giovanni Battista in the same square should also be visited.
To explore the surrounding area of Monteriggioni in Tuscany you can reach the hamlet of Abbadia Isola, where the beautiful Abbey of Saints Salvatore and Cirino is located within half an hour walk. This area was included amongst the stages of the Via Francigena and it was mentioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 10th century; during the same period the church with an annexed monastery was built at the expense of the Lords of Staggia as a symbol of their territorial domain. Over the centuries the church has undergone several changes up to the present day and it is an interesting destination for a trip to Monteriggioni in Italy. From an artistic point of view the building is an example of the Romanesque style and inside you will find among the remarkable paintings a 15th century fresco by Taddeo di Bartolo (Madonna and Child Enthroned, cherubs, angels and saints) and another from the 16th century by Vincenzo Tamagni (Assumption of the Virgin).
What is there to visit in Monteriggioni that is even more fascinating? We suggest visiting two other places of worship within easy reach. The first is the Church of San Lorenzo in Colle Ciupi, located precisely on top of a hill. The building dates back to the 13th century and has a large rough-looking facade; inside there are frescoes by Siena artists of the early 14th century and especially noteworthy are the images of musical scores dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The second stage of your itinerary of Monteriggioni attractions should include the Hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago. This charming and mysterious Augustinian hermitage lies in Santa Colomba, surrounded by forests and dense vegetation. Chronicles describe the presence of a lake right near the building that dried up in the 18th century; the eremite community that lives there dates back to the early centuries of the year 1000. Later it was joined, at the papal behest, to the nearby Hermitage of San Salvatore in Lecceto (in the municipality of Sovicille) and, during the fights amongst Communes, it was fortified and became a haven for the fleeing population. In the 14th century, finally, the choir of the monastery was painted by Lippo Vanni, famous painter from Siena.
Perhaps you are wondering what to do in Monteriggioni, Italy during the hour break! In the old town there are many places to stop and enjoy the traditional dishes of Siena and Florence, otherwise, the surrounding area has many farms which offer Tuscan products of the highest quality and often with the possibility of food or wine tasting. The wonderful area of Chianti is famous for wine tastings and just a short distance from Monteriggioni! When heading towards it, do not miss the surrounding hilly landscape with its colours and unmistakable harmony!
After your lunch break you can admire Monteriggioni, Siena, Italy and its recent history and take the opportunity to keep alive the memory of World War II. On 28 May 1944, 19 partisans in the area of La Porcareccia were shot dead, in what was called the Massacre of Montemaggio (name of the mountain where the massacre took place). Today, for those interested, in this village of Monteriggioni is the Jubilee House, the center of historical documentation maintained by the Historical Institute for the Resistance of Siena.
If you have more than one day to spend in this area, we would like to advise you, after seeing Monteriggioni in the province of Siena, Italy what to visit around the area. If you want to continue to follow an itinerary of medieval villages you will be happy to reach the villages of San Gimignano, Certaldo and Volterra. For those wishing to visit the arts cities of Tuscany, Monteriggioni is only half an hour's drive from Siena and within an hour you can easily reach both Arezzo and Florence.
Nature lovers and walkers will discover how the Via Francigena in Monteriggioni is increasingly popular nowadays amongst the historical and natural walks even with young people. If you decide to embark on even a part of the route, get a map and the credential paper that can be stamped at each stop to certify your itinerary and which remain as a special memento of your holiday (as 'pilgrims') on foot.
So, the things to see in Monteriggioni and surroundings are now clearer. At least you have realized now how many possibilities there are and how many access routes to other places are offered to you from this ancient village. Among the major events of the of Monteriggioni castle the Monteriggioni Medieval Festival is to be mentioned, which takes place in the summer months of June and July: costumed performers, fire juggling, the walls decorated with torches, itinerant actors who tell legends and stories of knights… it is a magical place which returns to live life as it was in the Middle Ages. The commemoration even compels viewers to use a special coin to make purchases within the event; in addition to games and theatre performances the taverns and inns are also opened for the event. It will be a unique pleasure to dine reliving the atmospheres of the 14th century with 'medieval' dishes based on game of the area, soups, cakes and house wine! Once you are at the party, make yourself comfortable and get carried away with the court dances and have fun!
At this point, we must renew our invitation to discover with us the places to visit in Monteriggioni, Siena and all medieval Tuscany! Our advice is to book online at toscanainside.com the Chianti tour with tastings from Florence, which also includes stops in San Gimignano and Siena as well as in Monteriggioni!
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