Monteriggioni, a small medieval town famous for its walls
però che, come in su la cerchia tonda
Monteriggion di torri si corona,
così la proda che ‘l pozzo circonda
torregiavan di mezza la persona
li orribili giganti, cui minaccia
Giove del cielo ancora quando tona
(Dante Alighieri, Inferno canto XXXI, vv. 40-45)
With these words, Dante was talked about Monteriggioni, recalling its round shape city walls and the lofty towers like giants.
And even today, what distinguishes this small settlement is precisely its walls and defensive towers.
The history of Monteriggioni
The site was founded in 1203 by the Sienese who intended to erect an outpost against Florence on Northwest border. Located on top of a hill, between the functions of the castle there were the control of the Val d’Elsa and of the via Francigena.
In the years 1213-1219, Monteriggioni was equipped with walls. Between 1244 and 1254 Florence and Siena struggled for its control. Given that during the clashes with the Florentines the walls were heavily damaged, the Sienese were forced to rebuild it in the Decade Between 1260 and 1270.
Monteriggioni was protagonist of new battles even in later centuries until, in 1554, was taken over by the Marquis of Marignano, which in the following year finally defeated the Republic of Siena. After these events the Castle and the surrounding territory came under the rule of Cosimo I de ‘ Medici.
The village and the walls
The main reason for interest in Monteriggioni are its walls. It is a walled and oval-shaped, 570 metres long, that follows the shape of the Hill on which is perched the settlement. The walls are interspersed by 14 towers with a square base placed at regular intervals.
The village is spread along a single axis that connects the two city gates: Porta Franca (or Romea), located on the South-East in the direction of Siena, and Porta San Giovanni in the direction of Florence.