On our way home from Tuscany in mid-October, we stopped at Monteriggioni, which from my very first glimpse became one of my favorite places in Tuscany. The receptionist at Borgo di Pietrafitta, where we stayed, lives in Monteriggioni and told us that it is an interesting spot to see. She is right!
Just a few miles off the A1 Autostrada between Siena and Florence, Monteriggioni is a serene, picturesque, beautifully preserved hill town completely enclosed within the walls of a former castle. Although neither of my Italy tour books, Rick Steves and Fodor’s, mentions Monteriggioni (which is probably a GOOD thing, since Monteriggioni is so tiny!), visitors somehow know about it because we saw several as we wandered through the small village.
If you go to Monteriggioni, and you SHOULD go there, don’t stop at the parking lot at the bottom of the hill, because it’s a steep climb to the top. Keep driving to the top of the hill and just outside the south village gate (Porta Romana), you’ll find another parking lot—rimmed with olive trees and offering a gorgeous view of the countryside—and that lot is mere steps from the entrance.
The Siennese built Monteriggioni in 1213 as a defensive fortification in the wars between Siena and Florence, and the townspeople also had to withstand attacks from the Bishop of Volterra, a Tuscan village just to the west.
Monteriggioni is enclosed by a wall that is about a third of a mile long. The wall has 14 towers and two gates. According to Wiki, Monteriggioni’s walls and buildings are among the best preserved in Italy, attracting tourists, architects, and medieval historians. To see an aerial view of Monteriggioni, visit this link.
We climbed the northern and southern ramparts and visited the tiny museum in which you can try on medieval garments, such as chain mail, and heft medieval weapons. The museum was great fun! I wish we’d had more time to spend in Monteriggioni, but we had to make the long drive back to Rome that day.
Stop here, if only for a few hours—it’s worth the trip!