My family was on our way back home to Pisa from a weekend trip to Siena in 1967. My mother saw the walled hilltop village of Monteriggioni, shown above, and wanted to explore it. Wouldn’t you?
Normally my father was a Point A to Point B person, but in this case, he adjusted his schedule and drove toward the fortress-looking village in our big 1963 Chevrolet Impala station wagon. The narrow roads of Italy must’ve been quite a challenge for my father but he was always up for a challenge.
There was a single winding road up to Monteriggioni, a narrow one lane rocky road. The hills were planted with vineyards and olive trees as I remember. It was a little scary for us kids, but instead of looking straight down we looked ahead at the great walls looming ahead of us and the arched gate. However, once we got to that arched gate we found it was too narrow for our Chevy Impala station wagon to go through. We all piled out to look at it, and residents of Monteriggioni gathered to examine the situation and discuss it.
There was nothing to do but turn around and go back down the hill; however, there was no turning around. Nowadays, there are several places to turn around, but in 1967 the way up was the way down. My father had to put that car in reverse and back down the steep rocky one-lane road all the way down to the bottom of the hill. My mother and we children followed on foot down the mountain. My father made it fine, of course; to my childish eyes, there was nothing my dad couldn’t do.
But throughout the years, I’ve never forgotten Monteriggioni. I kept it in my mind, because my family didn’t take any pictures of it. When I was planning this trip to Italy, I wanted to go back to that hilltop village–this time, through the gates. I even made a reservation at the one hotel inside the walls. This is the view from my room. I slept with the window open!
I walked along the top of the walls and looked out over the Chianti country.
Monteriggioni is right off the autostrada between Florence and Siena and so easy to access. It’s a great way to spend a few hours exploring an authentic medieval village.