Rarely do I write about a destination, but this is more of a concept. The off the beaten track countryside of Italy. The Italian village, borgo, tiny as they are, offer an incredible wealth of beauty, nature, and history.
Often overlooked in favor of Italy’s largest cities and tourist hubs, the Italian villages nevertheless are a worthy destination for the traveler who wants to get to know the country’s authentic face.
Borgos are traditionally medieval walled cities centered around a church or castle. Still active today, where time seems to stand still so that you can better feel and hear the local stories and experience the local traditions.
As many travelers drive between Rome and Florence through Tuscany and Umbria, I often suggest a few borgos to visit. Here is one of my very favorites.
Monteriggioni is a medieval walled town, sitting on top of a hill overlooking the beautiful Tuscan countryside, between Siena and Colle Val D’Elsa, originally built as a castle. Park your car at the bottom of the hill (parking lot available) and enter the village.
The castle of Monteriggioni was built by the Sienese in 1214-19 during the wars with Florence. The well-preserved 570-meter-long circular walls, featuring 14 towers, follow the natural curve of the hill. You can walk long two stretches of the walls for great views of the Tuscan countryside and of the town, especially the main piazza, Piazza Roma.
In the early 90’s I visited Monteriggioni and not knowing any better; see the opening in the wall, I drove through it and down a very steep path through to olive orchard.