Monteriggioni, the non-existent Inferno

Out of the hundreds and thousands of jewels set in Italy’s crown, Monteriggioni holds a special place. Despite the myriad magical walled towns throughout the country, the proportion and position of this town near Siena make it a force to be reckoned with.

Driving down the highway, your gaze is immediately pulled to the admirable slant of the towers and walls on the hill that appears to be crowned by the defensive circumference. Turning off to see Monteriggioni in person is compelling.

The stronghold was founded for defensive reasons in the early Thirteenth Century by the Guelphs and Sienese on the site of a pre-existing Longobard farm. At the time, and for many centuries to come, Tuscany was a battleground where lords fought for power, fame, land and dominion with their foot soldiers and horsemen. Florence and Siena in particular sent their men to battle tooth and nail, often beneath the walls of Monteriggioni.

Monteriggioni’s timeline is packed with dates and names obliterated to a greater or lesser extent by history. What remains strong and evident are the town’s walls, which have never fallen in battle, solely due to the betrayal, subterfuge and deceit. To the extent that it seems the last traitor, who sold the town’s freedom to the Florentines linked to the Empire, regretted his actions so deeply that his ghost still roams the battlements with noises of clattering armory.

The legend runs so deeply that even Dante placed Monteriggioni between the Eighth and Ninth Circle of his Inferno and, despite the right proportions, the old depictions are reminiscent of old maps of Jerusalem. Monteriggioni still mesmerizes today, and only a heart of stone could resist its timeless charm.

We like to survey the turreted skyline of Monteriggioni from La Solatia, our estate here: extreme swings in temperature from day to night, austere yet generous terrain, and the sun that pours light and energy are the hallmark traits of this estate and its wines.

As with circling round
Of turrets, Monteriggioni crowns his walls;
E’en thus the shore, encompassing the abyss,
Was turreted with giants…