Resource Guide to Traveling and Visiting Tuscany


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view of Monteriggioni

Monteriggioni falls within the province of Siena, is about halfway between Siena and Colle Val D'Elsa and is easily reachable with the speedway Florence-Siena.

Monteriggioni is without any doubt one of the most classical and best known Italian walled town. Since the Middle Age its fame was so great that also the great poet Dante refers to its 'round enclosure' in his Divine Comedy (Hell, XXXI, 40-41). The walls, nearly intact, cover a length of 570 meters and are alternated by 14 towers and two gates.

The Sienese gate rises at the base of a tower while the gate oriented toward Florence opens in the wall and is defended by one of the towers of the fortified perimeter.
The town was built by the Sienese from 1213 to1219 upon a hillock at dominating and overlooking the Cassia Road. Its ideal position allowed to control the Elsa and the Staggia Valleys towards Florence, the historic enemy of Siena, that at that time was rapidly expanding its territory.

The hill of Monteriggioni is natural, though at a first sight it could seem a great 'motte' (from the name of the classical Norman castles 'Motte-and-Bailey' built on artificial hills and gifted of enclosure), and the almost perfect circular layout of the walls was obtained just following the sketch of the ground's curves of level. In the planning it was tried to limit the main weak points, the gates, entrusting the connections with the outside only to a east to west crossing road.

In Monteriggioni the military building work appears physically distinguished by the inhabited area confined to its inside and well separated from the walls by a 'territory of respect'. On the contrary, in the ancient times the inhabited area had been more intense and with a more narrow band of separation.

The village that we can admire today is really authentic because it has never suffered from building or tourist speculations. The only changes to its aspect happened in the first years of the XVI century when the towers at the base of the walls were lowered with the purpose to get a 'bastion' effect trying to adapt the fortifications to the development of the new fire weapons.

small street in Monteriggioni
street scene in Monteriggioni