Photo credit: Michele Piccardo
The Middle Ages are brought to vivid life from July 7–10th and 15–17th as the ancient hilltop fort of Monteriggioni gets its patterned leggings on for the 26th edition of its renowned medieval festival.
Famously described by Dante in Canto XXXI of the Inferno as ‘crowned with towers’, Monteriggioni’s perfectly preserved castle and historical centre with commanding 360-degree views over the Chianti region create an evocative theatrical backdrop for flag-throwing, drumming and jousting displays, where even the medieval-style street food is paid with locally minted tokens bartered for cash.
Entitled Arts, Games and Festivals at the Time of Dante, the 2016 edition begins with a castle banquet on July 7th and follows with weekend festivities held in the back streets and main squares from 5pm till midnight. The festival also includes artisans plying medieval trades, roving musicians and Renaissance dancers, street theatre, costumed parades and midnight fireworks over the castle.
Monteriggioni’s strategic location only 14km from Siena and 54km from Florence on the Via Francigena, the pilgrim route from Canterbury to Rome, saw it become the subject of a bloody tug-of-war between the two Tuscan city states during the medieval period. Constructed by the Sienese in the thirteenth century, it withstood Florentine siege for more than 300 years until dastardly treachery saw it finally fall into enemy hands. The ambitious Captain Zeti, leader of the garrison troops, struck a deal with the Florentine army in 1554 and, to the horror of the Sienese, stood aside and relinquished the fortification without raising a single arrow in defence, spelling the end of the Republic of Siena.
Whether his reasons were strategic or personal, Zeti’s name has been decisively tarred by history, and legend says that his ghost can still be heard, haunting the shadowy towers of the fortress.
Monteriggioni Medieval Festival
Dates: July 7th (castle banquet); 8–10th and 15–17th (festival).
Cost: €9–13 depending upon the day (reduced tickets available and free entrance for children under 7).
www.monteriggionimedievale.com (Italian only)