If you are visiting Tuscany in the summer and have made the wise decision to veer off the Venice-Florence-Rome in 7 days agenda, then that means you will undoubtedly be visiting at least a few of Tuscany’s fabulous hill towns. Unless you are an Assassin’s Creed video game enthusiast, Monteriggioni doesn’t always make the top 10 list, but it should. Situated just 25 minutes north of Siena by car and 35 minutes south-east of San Gimignano, it is well worth the visit.
Its spectacular fortified walls with 14 towers still remain intact as well as its castle dating back to the 13th century. At the time, Siena was predominantly Ghibelline and in opposition to Florence’s Guelph position. Dante Alighieri‘s Divine Comedy, completed in 1320, drew inspiration from these tumultuous times and locations. In fact, he specifically mentions Monteriggioni: “as, on its round wall, Montereggioni is crowned with towers” (Inferno 31.40-41). Its piazza is charming along with the Santa Maria Assunta Romanesque Church. In the off-season, it is not overrun by tourists and you can still enjoy an authentic, quiet experience strolling through the alleys, window shopping and purchasing local cheeses and wines.
The highlight of Monteriggioni’s summer season for both tourists and locals alike is definitely its Medieval Festival which takes place during the first two weekends of July. This year marks the 29th edition that the medieval village will take its visitors back, for six magical days, to the year 1213. Every evening from Friday, July 5th to Sunday, July 7th and then again from Friday, July 12th to Sunday, July 14th, visitors will be catapulted back in time.
You’ll be greeted by jesters, jugglers and street performers who will captivate you with their song, dance and game. The streets will be filled with market stalls selling authentic, handmade medieval fare. Aromas of cured meats, spit-roasted pork, and red wine from the surrounding hillsides will overwhelm your senses. You’ll witness historical wedding ceremony reenactments in line with this year’s theme- “Women in the time of Dante”. There are too many other amazing events over the course of the six days to highlight here, but just know that nothing is haphazard or by chance. Every last detail has been meticulously studied and carried out to historical perfection.
You can visit the official website in English and see the detailed program as well. Tickets are very reasonably priced at between 11 and 13 euro which includes all events inside the walls as well as concerts (except for the sit-down banquet). Children under 7 enter free. Parking is free.
photo credits: monteriggionimedievale.com