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Monteriggioni,  the castle that tells fairy tales

the castle that tells fairy tales

30 June 2021

The impenetrable beauty of the past

Sitting atop a gentle hill of sloping vineyards and olive groves, halfway between Siena and Colle Val D'Elsa, lies the charming village of Monteriggioni. Visitors gaze in wonder as it rises, majestic and austere, from its hilltop summit. Indeed, Monteriggioni is one of the world's best preserved examples of military architecture, a fortified town whose wall, erected between 1212 and 1219, extends for 570 meters and is interspersed with 14 towers and two gates: Porta Franca which stands at the base of a tower and faces out towards Siena, and San Giovanni, turned towards Florence, which is set within the perimeter wall and is defended from one of the towers.
When it was constructed, the village was situated on the historic pilgrimage route of Via Francigena and functioned as an important outpost for defending the Sienese territory from Florentine attacks. The village we see today is virtually unchanged from the days of its past glories, a concentrated collection of buildings which can be visited quickly. But a visit to Monteriggioni is one that remains forever in the memory: arriving at the village in the evening, when the perimeter wall is illuminated by a thousand yellow lights, Monteriggioni appears almost like a mirage in the midst of the Tuscan hills.
Anyone visiting Monteriggioni immediately understands that they've discovered a magical place, an enchanted fairy tale castle.
A part of the wall's walkway has recently been made accessible and therefore can be visited and, from the top of this defensive structure, it's possible to marvel at the stunning Chianti countryside as well as to enjoy an unusual view of the village and its fortifications.

Local cuisine, traditional dishes, interesting facts

Monteriggioni is able to offer a journey to the Middle Ages also from a culinary perspective.
Its gastronomic delights are those that you would typically expect to find in the Sienese countryside and the hills of Chianti, chief among them being the wines and the olive oil with its intense green hue and sapid, slightly spicy flavour, excellent drizzled on the famous Tuscan bruschetta, but also as a condiment to the region's classic vegetable and legume soups or on meat. The tourist who's keen on tradition absolutely has to savour the joys of a Florentine T-bone steak from the Chianina cattle breed, a rib-eye steak, a grilled entrecôte steak or a classic sliced beef steak with oil and rosemary or topped with truffle shavings. It's not all about beef, but also pork, where the breed that's bred exclusively in these areas is the famous Cinta Senese that produces a number of must-not-miss delicacies: prosciutto, in both its cooked ham and cured forms, the delicious guanciale (pork cheek) and the ragù sauce with its flavour from a bygone era.

Where to eat enjoying a bottle
of Acqua San Benedetto

Ristorante Il Piccolo Castello, Monteriggioni (Siena)

Festival after festival

The village comes alive every July with the historical "Monteriggioni di torri si corona" re-enactment, one of Italy's oldest medieval festivals that's been welcoming thousands of visitors for over thirty years. During the commemoration it's possible to admire parades of splendid period costumes and to savour the taste of now forgotten culinary specialities. The months of June, September and October see the arrival of the Slow Travel Fest, a regional festival which takes place along the Via Francigena and that is dedicated to "slow travel" and outdoor activities, offering a rich programme of music, street performances, presentations and excursions.

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Tuscany, between beauty and ancient history

Let's spend a day together immersed in the splendid Tuscany, specifically in Colle Val D'Elsa, among the vineyards of the Chianti Hills and ancient towers.

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