How I visited Dante’s Inferno and walked on a thousand-year-old route
Monteriggioni, Dante's Inferno, viewed from Via Francigena

How I visited Dante’s Inferno and walked on a thousand-year-old route

I was decided to do some hiking around Siena and out of several options, there was one that turned out to be the right choice for my wannabe-epic needs. So it happened, that I was getting a EUR 2.80 ticket to Monteriggioni on that lovely Saturday morning. It did not take very long and I was standing at the gates of Monteriggioni, or should I rather say Dante’s Inferno? Dante Alighieri, yes, that Dante, mentions this tiny fortified village in his Divine Comedy. This very place, where I was standing, was his inspiration for the Infernal abyss (or maybe a just a clever way of describing it).

Built by the Sienese in 1214–19 as a front line in their wars against Florence, this walled town is pure medieval. In your face, Game of Thrones, this is some real stuff! The roughly circular walls, almost 600 metres long are pretty much intact and you can walk around it on the outer side. Which is that kind of thing I do (and did) to fully appreciate the uniqueness of this place. There are 14 (!) towers and two gates. One gate, the Porta Fiorentina opens toward Florence to the north, and the other, the Porta Romana, faces Rome to the south. The main street within the walls is connecting the two gates in a straight line and takes maybe 1-2 minutes to get from one side to the other. When I arrived, Monteriggioni was basically empty so I walked around every possible corner and checked it out from all angles. I even found the street called after Dante (which was not that difficult, considering there are exactly 2 and a half streets in total). And when the first café opened, I ordered a coffee, got some panforte, delicious dried-fruity-caky Tuscan thing and went up the city walls. All legal, no crazy parkour stuff, just paid 3€ and climbed up the stairs. I just can’t recommend this enough, what a great view!

However, my time as a tourist was up. Now, I was determined to turn into a bad-ass hiker and walk 20 kilometres back to Siena. On foot. You know, using legs, these two bony things hanging down from my bottom. And it was not just like any walk, it was a walk on a part of the ancient route Via Francigena. This thousand-year-old pilgrim route lead from Canterbury in England all the way down to Rome, and Siena has always been one of its highlights, as well as the castle of Monteriggioni. So I went. The views in the beginning were fantastic and then it turned into a really nice walk through the Chianti region. Castles, pretty views, old churches, wineyards, forests, it was all there! I had an app for tracking the route, though I did not need it at all, since the marking on the way is just phenomenal. After about 4 hours, I arrived to Siena, there was much more going on, and the street seemed familiar. Oh yeah, there was my hotel right there. And there – the beautiful Porta Camollia, historical entrance from the north, from Via Francigena. Every single pilgrim arriving to the town had to go through the gate, probably heading straight to Duomo to have a little chat with the “boss”, or heal their wounds in Santa Maria della Scala. And now I’m walking through the very gate. Epic.



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