Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

The wall of giants

These days the people of Tuscany take peace for granted. But a few hundred years ago, the province was anything but peaceful, with conflicts flaring up on a regular basis. The people of Siena and Florence were sworn enemies. As their military and economic powers grew, they each tried to expand their territory by attacking the other. To help defend their land, in the early 13th century the Republic of Sienna fortified Monteriggioni, a town in a prime location on a hill overlooking Florentine territory.

Despite many attacks over a 300 year period, the fortress held strong, until peace returned to the region.

Today, you’re free to explore Monteriggioni for yourself. Inside the walls, the town boasts several piazzas, churches, houses and public gardens, which provided much of the town’s food during times of siege. The walls of Monteriggioni curve to follow the contours of the hill for some 570 metres. Most striking of all are the 14 guard towers that stand along the walls like giants watching over the town. Tuscan poet Dante drew inspiration from their striking visage, referring to them in his epic ‘Inferno’ as giants circling the abyss. It’s hard to imagine how threatening they must have once seemed to the enemy, when today Monteriggioni is a picture of Sienese serenity.