The splendid Val d’Elsa hides a precious treasure: Monteriggioni
Visiting the Val d’Elsa: an unforgettable experience
The Montagnola Senese, a pleasant hilly area between Siena and Radicondoli, gives birth to the Val d’Elsa, a charming territory wedged between the Val di Cecina, the Chianti, the Val di Merse and the Valdarno. The Val d’Elsa takes its name from the river running through it and, unlike other areas of the territory of Siena, has a large concentration of settlements. The most significant among these is Monteriggioni, which is just 20 km north of Siena; it can reached by car, bus and even on foot. This beautiful medieval village is, in fact, the 32nd stage of the Via Francigena, the old path through which medieval pilgrims moved from Canterbury to Rome; Today, much of the original route was restored, including the pleasant stretch leading from Siena to Monteriggioni.
Things to see in Monteriggioni and more
Monteriggioni was built in just five years, between 1214 and 1219, as ordered by the Republic of Siena with the function of territorial control. The area where it is located, in fact, had strategic importance because it was along the Via Francigena and at the origin of the valley leading to Florence, the historic enemy of Siena. Today Monteriggioni is a breathtaking destination for visitors of all ages, because it has preserved its original medieval form; visiting it means experiencing a real blast from the past. All of the town is still tightly located inside the circular walls that stand imposingly over the surrounding countryside lovingly cared for by local farmers. Today’s visitors are struck in particular by the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta and by the battlements on top of the walls, which offer a unique view of the surrounding landscape: a real plunge into history. The Val d’Elsa tour should also include a visit to Colle Val d’Elsa, located on top of a hill just 11 km away from Monteriggioni. This village was founded in the tenth century and during the Middle Ages it experienced a very intense history, because it is found at the center of disputes between Siena and Florence and in the midst of clashes with other cities of the valley. The Lovely plazas and the picturesque alleys of Colle Val d’Elsa hide unexpected treasures, such as the Church of Sant’Agostino, built in 1305 and renovated in 1531 with a project of Antonio da Sangallo il Vecchio. The Co-Cathedral of Saints Alberto and Marziale, instead, is a rare example of Siena’s Baroque.
Some further advice for a complete tour of the Val d’Elsa
Those who wish to do a full immersion in the real Middle Ages should schedule the visit of Monteriggioni in conjunction with “Monteriggioni di torri si corona”, the historical commemoration that takes place every summer in July. The program is always rich in events: falconry shows, games and jousts, concerts and theatrical performances, performances of jesters and jugglers, historical re-enactments, reconstruction of ancient workshops and much more. The flagship event of Colle Val d’Elsa, instead, is “Cristallo fra le mura”, which takes place every September. The event is dedicated to the production of crystal, for which Colle Val d’Elsa is famous since 1406 as seen in the Museum dedicated to it. Today, the town produces 95% of crystal sold in Italy and 14% sold in the world: the event is an excellent opportunity to discover the Italian excellences.