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An exciting journey among the castles in and around Siena

The castles of Siena and its surroundings: amazing emotions

Siena and its province is a land of castles: each of these fortresses has a fascinating story or a legend to tell that still echoes in the tales of the elderly. Visiting the castles  of Siena and its province gives indescribable emotions, thanks to a glorious past exalted by the beautifully preserved architecture and a rural landscape still alive. These feelings can be enjoyed for example by visiting the Castle of Volpaia, in the hills between the valleys of the Arbia and the Pesa. Built around the tenth century, the Volpaia fortress had a strategic role for its location on the border between the cities of Siena and Florence. Among the castles in the area of Siena it’s also worth mentioning the fortress of Colle di Val d’Elsa, which is just 15 km from the city, with its fortified town active since the Middle Ages for its intense commercial activity.

Siena’s castles and their legends: the fortified town of Monteriggioni and the castle of Sarteano

Built around the twelfth century to avoid the raids of the Florentines, the fortified town of Monteriggioni is famous for being mentioned by Dante in the “Divine Comedy”. Due to its thick walls and its 15 towers, this fortification remained impregnable for centuries, until 1526, when due to the betrayal of its captain Zeti it lost its independence. Concerning this the event, a fascinating legend was born: it seems that there is a secret tunnel, starting from the well in Piazza Roma, that leads directly to the city of Siena. In this passage, the captain’s ghost is supposed to be still roaming, haunted by the betrayal committed, uncable to find peace due to his remorse. Between the Val di Chiara and the Val d’Orcia instead stands the Castle of Sarteano. The only ancient city walls remained intact are the ones built in Siena in the fifteenth century, but there are also the two majestic circular towers and central keep.The entrance door has a bas-relief with a female wolf: legend has it that Siena was founded by Senio, the son of Remus and brother of Ascanio. It is said that the two young brothers fled from Rome riding on two horses, one white and one black, carrying a statue of the wolf, to arrive in the hills near Siena where they built the first fortifications. Siena would have acquired the wolf as its symbol and embraced the black and white colors of the horses of Remo’s children.

Castles and fortresses in the hills of Siena

Built in 1361 using part of the thirteenth century walls of the Bastion of San Martino, the Rocca di Montalcino is appreciated for its pentagonal structure that makes it a unique example of the Tuscan military architecture. Characterized by well-balanced proportions and the elegant alternation of full and empty spaces that anticipates the structure of Renaissance fortresses, the Rocca di Montalcino is still nowadays in excellent conditions. Just a few minutes from Poggibonsi, the fortress of Staggia can tell us 5 centuries of history through its structure. Its architecture appears as a superposition of different styles: from the square Lombard-style lines to a refined style typical of the noble buildings, it also features typical fourteenth-century forms. The walls of the fortress reach the “walled land” of Staggia, forming a picturesque route partially accessible still to this day.