Have you ever thought of visiting a real castle? Europe is known for preserving castles of ancient times. If you are in Italy, make sure to visit at least one castle in Tuscany. You will surely enjoy the experience.
The Castle of Monteriggioni
The Castle of Monteriggioni, otherwise known as the “Gateway to the Middle Ages”, is located in Central Tuscany. It was built by the Republic of Siena at the beginning of the 13th century to defend its southern border against Florence (www.monteriggioniturismo.it). Fans of the video game Assassin’s Creed might recognize this castle (yes, it is a real place). Its impressive towers were mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy; he compared them to real life giants surrounding the abyss.
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The Day I Visited A Castle
First of all, I did not really plan on visiting the Castle of Monteriggioni on the day that I did. It was actually an unplanned visit. I arrived an hour early at the government office where I was supposed to pick up some documents. So since the office was still closed, my husband suggested that I visit the castle. It was only a ten-minute hike from the government office that was located at the bottom of the hill. No sweat!
Since I was not prepared to go on a hike that day (I was wearing white Converse sneakers), I took my time and enjoyed the view and the cool Autumn breeze as I passed by the rows of olive trees. It was such a lovely day because the weather was just right for hiking.
The Main Sights
1. The Church of Santa Maria Assunta (13th Century)
First stop is the small church in the square. It is a small and beautiful church inside the castle walls. Here you will find some restored frescoes. The entrance is free, so it is worth a quick look.
2. The Battlements on the Town Walls
Next stop: The Battlements on the Town Walls. This is the most important part of the tour, in my opinion. The Camminamento Sulle Mura (Walk on the Walls) is open every day (9:30-13:30 and 14-19:30). The full price is 3 euros. The reduced ticket is 2 euros (groups with at least 15 people, pilgrims with pilgrim passport, over 65, TCI and Edumusei members). The family ticket costs 9,5 euros (2 adults + 2 or 3 children 8-17 years old). Free admission to children up 7 years old (with an adult companion)- school groups excluded, residents in Monteriggioni territory, tourist guides and teachers with organized groups, disabled). This also includes the entrance to the Armour Museum.
3. The ‘Monteriggioni in Arme’ Museum
In this museum, you can see models, panels and life-size armor that you can put on. It offers insight into the glorious military history of the town.
I got hungry from all that sightseeing so I decided to go to a local bar. I had a typical Italian breakfast– delicious cup of cappuccino and a pastry filled with apricot jam at the Il Feudo Bar Ristorante.
My verdict: The coffee was very good and so was the pastry. Also, the service was quite good and I had a very pleasant experience!
The Medieval Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited events of the Tuscan summer. It is celebrated every year in the month of July. We missed it this year so I will make sure to bring the kids here next summer!
So if you are staying in Siena, the Monteriggioni Castle is worth a visit! First option: take a bus from the Fontebecci bus stop in Siena to the Monteriggioni Rotonda. Another option is renting a car and driving to the Comune di Monteriggioni and park your car in the parking area. Just walk a few meters to the entrance of the trail at the end of the hill. Also, you do not need to be a professional climber to walk up the hill. And just one safety tip: walk with caution as there are no handrails to support you. Finally, just enjoy the experience as you walk back in time to Italy of the middle ages.
So when was the last time you visited a place that is off the beaten track? Please leave a comment below and share this post on social media.