Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

Every year, sunny Italy attracts millions of tourists from all over the world . Beautiful beaches, endless vineyards and excellent cuisine will please even the most discerning traveler. Extremely rich in Italy and its historical past, and the amazing monuments of architecture are presented here in great numbers. Everyone knows the main Italian resorts – the capital city of Rome, and the romantic Venice, sunny Sicily and Milan, Florence and Verona. They are quite a few, they are on everyone’s lips. Most tourists tend to large cities, forgetting that the original atmosphere of the country is much easier to catch and feel in the small provincial towns. In these places it seems that the time stands still a few centuries ago, there is no rush and endless crowds of tourists. One of such small towns is Monteriggioni.

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy - Photo 2

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

Monteriggioni is located near Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany. This small town was built back in the early 13th century as a defensive fortress. Over time the walls of the fortress were strengthened, and around it gradually grew a village. Surprisingly, after many centuries, Monteriggioni remains almost in pristine condition even today. It is extremely small, but by walking through the few stone streets you can enjoy the authentic atmosphere of a medieval town. So what are the sights in such a modest area? Monteriggioni may be considered a landmark in its own right, but there are still many places worth seeing.

The outer walls, which surround the fortress continuously for 570 meters, have fourteen towers and have remained almost as they were when it was built in the XIII century. The main gate, Porta Franca, faces Rome and is the main entrance to the city. On the wall next to the gate there is an inscription that proves the founding of the fortress in the 1220s, which confirms the age of Monteriggioni.

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Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy - photo 3

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

In the center of the city is its main square, Piazza Roma . There are many small stores, cozy cafes and restaurants concentrated here. The square also overlooks the ancient church of Santa Maria Assunta. The interior of the church has been renovated not so long ago, but its bell has remained intact since 1299. Every October the inhabitants hold a festival in honor of the icon of the Madonna and the Rosary, which has been preserved in the church since the XVII century.

In the square there is also an armory museum . It presents exact copies of medieval weapons and armor. The uniqueness of the museum lies in the fact that the exhibits can not only be seen but also touched, held in hands and even tried on.

After leaving the square you can take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets of Monteriggioni, enjoy the flavor of the old red stone houses, visit the souvenir shops or have lunch in a small cafe. The fortress is also accessible to the public, and you can climb up into one of its towers. From here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surroundings.

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy - photo 4

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

In July the city hosts the festival “Monteriggioni, crowned with towers” . There is a big festival with a fair and theatrical productions. During the festival, the town begins to play with bright colors, clowns, jugglers and magicians perform everywhere. Improvised medieval duels and sword duels are also held. It causes a storm of positive emotions and leaves unforgettable impressions.

In general, Monteriggioni is a corner of a bygone era whose atmosphere and spirit are mysteriously preserved within the walls of this fortress. Therefore, in spite of its modest size, the town can be considered a real treasure trove of Italy’s historical heritage.

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy - photo 5

Monteriggioni: a medieval corner of Italy

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Monteriggioni: a medieval town in Italy

Monteriggioni is a fortified medieval village in the municipality of the same name in Italy. This amazing place will take you back to a time of knightly tournaments and medieval castles.

Where is it

Monteriggioni is located 60 kilometers from Florence in the province of Siena in Tuscany.

Geographical coordinates (43.390041, 11.223403)

Monteriggioni Tuscany Italy

Monteriggioni is situated in a very picturesque place

What is Monteriggioni

In the Middle Ages cities had to rely on sturdy high walls to protect their populations from invaders. Numerous remnants of former defensive structures are scattered throughout Europe.

One of the most stunning examples of a completely preserved ancient fortress wall can be found precisely in Monteriggioni. In the Middle Ages, the towers of the fortress were so impressive that the Tuscan poet Dante mentioned them in his classic work, The Divine Comedy, describing the giants surrounding the fiery ring of hell.

The castle’s fortress walls were surrounded by a ring of coal, which could be set on fire if invaders invaded. Over time, Monteriggioni Castle became a small village.

Streets of Monteriggioni

The appearance of almost every building here has retained its medieval character

Walking through the stone streets of the village is like traveling back in time. The only significant change in Monteriggioni over the centuries was the gradual reduction of the towers.

Central square of Monteriggioni

The central square of the town. From here you can clearly see that the towers on the fortress wall used to be taller. Note, the upper part of the towers is destroyed.

Dante would hardly have compared the towers of Monteriggioni to the imposing giants if he had seen them in modern times.

A bit of history

Monteriggioni was built by the people of Siena in the early 13th century to watch over the valleys stretching towards the hostile city of Florence.

Over the centuries, the castle walls fulfilled their primary function, repelling countless attacks and defending against sieges.

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But the military component became less important in the second half of the 16th century. Then, in 1554, the entire state of Siena, of which the village of Monteriggioni was a part, was annexed to Florence by the Medici family.

Monteriggioni sights

In addition to being an interesting sight in the village itself, there are places to see.

The outer walls of Monteriggioni

The town and its fortress walls still retain their original 13th-century architectural features. It is one of the most unique medieval towns in Tuscany.

The outer walls of stone envelope the top of the hill in a continuous chain over 570 meters. The walls are crowned by 14 rectangular towers.

Monteriggioni Exterior Walls

Any tourist can walk along some parts of the fortress walls. From here you can enjoy a splendid view of the surroundings

Porta Franca Gate

This gate is the main entrance to the city.

Porta Franca Gate

Porta Franca Gate

It faces Rome and is under a tower with a high pointed arch. In the past there must have been a drawbridge, which was lowered to span the moat. However, the bridge and moat no longer exist.

To the left of the arch is an inscription proving the foundation of Monteriggioni in the 1220s. On the right, however, you will see a plaque commemorating the unification of Italy in 1860.

Church of Santa Maria Assunta

This church overlooks the main square of the city. Perhaps this building best preserves its medieval features.

Church of Santa Maria Assunta

Church of Santa Maria Assunta

Built in the 13th century, it consists of a single rectangular-shaped interior space. On the elegant façade you see a doorway with a stone arch and a round window on top.

The interior has been updated in modern times. In addition to the 1299 bell, the church has a 17th-century painting of the Madonna and the Rosary. Every year in October, the inhabitants of the city celebrate the feast of this icon.

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The Armory Museum

This museum houses exact replicas of medieval and Renaissance weapons and armor.

Arms Museum

Monteriggioni Armory Museum

There are even detailed models of siege machines and equipment of the period. Each exhibit is dedicated to a particular moment in the city’s history.

Visitors can get an unusual experience with ancient weapons and armor, which are located in special rooms of the museum. You can even try on the knight’s armor. In addition, you will have the opportunity to swing (if you can) an ancient sword weighing 10 kg.

Monteriggioni Medieval Festival

Every year in July, history buffs from all over the world flock to the Monteriggioni Medieval Festival.

Monteriggioni Medieval Festival

People all dress in medieval clothing and recreate the events of those times

Some festival goers dress in knight’s armor and have medieval duels with long bulky spears and sword fights. And afterwards, everyone goes to restaurants together and eats medieval food and drinks.

Naturally, during this festival, many tourists rush to the Armory Museum to compare their swords and chain mail of the 21st century with the attributes of the real medieval knights.

For more information, visit the official website of the village of Monteriggioni.

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