After leaving Siena, we drove to Monteriggioni, a castle town with not much to it. The Castle of Monteriggioni was begun in 1213 and enclosed completely by walls. The expense and labor was paid for by Siena as a strong defensive bulwark against Florence’s expansion into the sensitive area crossed by the Via Francigena. The history of this town is filled with countless armed clashes with its rival Florence, which many times tried to destroy the walled hamlet.
Monteriggioni fell during the siege of 1553 by the imperial troops aligned with the Florentines, who bombarded the castle until it surrendered.
The Via Francigena in Tuscany goes over the Ciso Pass to follow mule tracks through forests and reminders of medieval times. The road goes past fortified villages and then descends to the Ligurian Sea at Sarzona; it continues alongside the Apuan Alps to reach the walls of Lucca. It then travels through the valleys of central Tuscany and crosses the Arno to the fortress of San Miniato. From here, past vineyards and olive groves, and following a path through the Elsa Valley, it reaches the 14th century towers of San Gimignano and medieval Siena.
It sounds much like the Camino de Santiago, and I noted that I should check it out for a future long-distance walk.
We strolled through the town as rain threatened.
The Chiesa di Santa Maria, which dates back to the 13th century, was once the headquarters for a canonical community. It has Romanesque-Gothic features and is composed of a single nave with apse. There is a small round window framed in brickwork, a source of light on the inside, together with small side windows and the large Gothic window on the back wall.
We dipped into a few shops; in one of them I bought a white t-shirt with a newsprint design on it for 25€.
We found one shop with some funky shoes.
We drove back to our Airbnb at Castello di Fulignano and had wine and cheese and crackers and prosciutto, and then the sun started to come out. We strolled around the grounds to admire views of the Tuscan countryside.
Mike threw together a gourmet meal: green beans, tagliatelle, pesto and cheese. It was delicious. He also made a salad with tomatoes and lettuce, garlic bread, leftover salami and cheese, but I was too stuffed with cheese and crackers to eat the salad.
After dinner, we hopped in the car to go in search of some sunset pictures, hoping to find a view of San Gimignano from the west. We never found a good view of the town, but we got some nice shots of the countryside.
The next day, we would head to southern Tuscany.
*Steps: 13,001, or 5.51 miles (Sienna & Monteriggioni) *
*Saturday, May 4, 2019*