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Saturday 19 August 2017
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The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa

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The Val d’Elsa lies between the provinces of Florence and Siena. Divided by the river Elsa, this area of Tuscany is one of the region’s most beautiful sections of countryside, rich in vineyards and olive groves that produce wine and oil renowned throughout the world.
As well as boasting a vast historical and artistic heritage made up of chapels, churches, ancient monuments and magnificent 15th and 16th century villas such as Collazzi and Tattoli, the Val d’Elsa also abounds in excellent restaurants and fine regional cuisine. Tourists searching for places to stay in this area will find that agriturismi, otherwise known as farmhouse residences, are the commonest form of lodging. Many are in converted farmhouses or villas that have been restored to the highest standards, offering a taste of life that has been forgotten elsewhere, but there are a number of elegant modern hotels also available. Ever since the Middle Ages, this region has been known for its glass manufacturers and saffron farmers, two trades that attracted young apprentices from all over Europe.

Half way between San Gimignano and Pienza, on a hill that overlooks the Via Cassia-Francigena, is Monteriggioni, a magnificent fortified town that has retained its circle of walls almost completely intact. Originally built by the Senese in 1213-1219, the walls of Monteriggioni run for 570 metres around the town and are 2 metres thick, with a total of 14, 15-metre tall towers at regular intervals. A 15th tower stands within the fortifications, which are broken by just two gateways, Porta Franca towards Siena and Porta San Giovanni towards Florence. The moat that originally surrounded the town had an original form of defence known as carbonaie, meaning that the bottom was filled with coal so that it could be lit to provide a ring of fire round the city in the event of a siege.

The interior of Monteriggioni is made up of a large square, Piazza Roma, onto which faces the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, built around a single vaulted nave that terminates in a square apse. The coloured facade has a doorway surmounted by an archivolt. The bell tower was added in the 18th century.

Although it only totals 42 inhabitants, is a favourite destination of tourists from all over the world. Because there is only one hotel, those who intend to sleep here overnight are advised to book well in advance.

Colle Val d’Elsa is a town on three levels: Borgo, which is accessible through the majestic Porta Nuova and is made up of beautiful 16th and 17th century patrician town houses; Castello, or Colle Alta, which still retains its original Medieval appearance and is the town’s religious and political centre; and Piano, or Colle Bassa, which is composed of the ancient hamlet of Spugna, where the town’s wool weavers, paper manufacturers and glass craftsmen made use of the nearby river Elsa. In 1592 Colle Val d’Elsa was made a bishopric.
Along the main street of the Colle section of town, Via di Castello, stands the tower that was once the home of the great architect Arnolfo di Cambio, born in Colle Val d’Elsa. Other important buildings that line this street are the 14th century Palazzo dei Priori – which today houses the Museo di Arte Sacra and the Museo Civico –, and the Baroque Duomo, with a Crucifix attributed to Giambologna above the high altar. In Piazza Duomo stands the 14th century Palazzo Pretorio, which contains the Museo Archeologico. Outside Porta Nuova it is well worth stopping for a look at the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which contains Senese School frescoes from the 15th century.
Still a major industrial centre, Colle is known for its fine quality, hand crafted crystal ware.

The Piticciano area of town, better known as Castello, is the earliest fortified nucleus of Colle Val d’Elsa. Access is through two former gateways that have since been demolished. Within there are three main streets, two large squares, two churches, as well as towers, town houses, wells, courtyards and gardens. Only a few Medieval constructions still survive in this area, such as part of the Palazzo Pretorio and the tower of the great architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio.

 

All'inizio

  General information
Town map 
Siena in the Renaissance 
Siena in the Middle Ages 
Siena in Antiquity 

  Transport in town
Town Map Siena 

  Transport out of town
Train services 

  Where to Stay
Historical Residences 
Hotels 
Farm Holidays and Country Houses  
Residence, Apartments 
Bed & Breakfasts 

  OFFERS & LAST MINUTE
Reservation Services Siena 
Last Minute Siena 

  Where to eat and drink
Disco Dancing 
Restaurants 
Pubs & Wine Bar 

  Education
Siena University 
University for Foreigners 

  Art and monuments
Palazzo Piccolomini and Palazzo delle Papesse 
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini 
Palazzo d’Elci degli Alessi 
Loggia della Mercanzia 
Palazzo Sansedoni 
Palazzo Chigi-Zondadari 
Fonte Gaia fountain 
Carthusian Monastery of Pontignano  
Forte di Santa Barbara 

  Art and religion
Church of Sant’Agostino 
The Duomo – The Cathedral of the Assunta 
Church of the Osservanza  
The Oratory of San Bernardino 
Church of San Francesco 
Short Biography of St Catherine of Siena  
St Catherine Sanctuary 
Church of S. Niccolò al Carmine 

  Museums and galleries
The Museo Civico 
Bologna-Buonsignori museum 
Accademia dei Fisiocritici 
I Musei Senesi 

  Art and tourist attractions
Cappella di Piazza 
The Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia 
Piazza del Campo 
The Montagnola Senese and the Fortified Village of Sovicille 
The Castles of Belcaro and Quattro Torri 

  The Palio of Siena
The Origins 
The July and August Palio 
The Contrade 
The Days of the Palio 
The Drappellone 
The Eve of the Palio 
The Corteo Storico Procession 
The Race 
The Patron Saint and Oratory of Each Contrada 
Weekly Appointments in each Contrada from April onwards 

  Sightseeing
Via di Città (formerly Via Galgaria), Siena’s Most Elegant Street 
Croce del Travaglio Place 
From Piazza del Campo to the Duomo Along Via di Città 
The Curves of Piazza del Campo 
Costarella dei Barbieri street 
Borgo d’Ovile 
The Terzo of Camollia – main streets 
Casato di Sopra e Casato di Sotto 
Terzo di San Martino district  
The Terzo di Città District - Via Stalloreggi, Via San Quirico 
The Terzo di Città District – The Pinacoteca Nazionale 

  What to see & do
Wedding in Siena 
Golf courses in Siena and Tuscany 
Wedding in Tuscany - Siena area 
San Casciano dei Bagni 
Chianciano Terme 
Bagni San Filippo 
Bagno Vignoni 
Rapolano Terme - Baths of San Giovanni and Baths of the Antica Querciolaia 
The Countryside around Siena and its Thermal Water Springs 

  Monte Amiata
Monte Amiata - nature tourism the year round 
SkiPass Monte Amiata 
WebCam sul Monte Amiata 
Meteo Monte Amiata 

  Specials - Out of town
Gift Ideas for traveling 
The Val d’Orcia and Its Main Towns 
Pienza - the old town centre 
Montepulciano - the old town centre 
San Quirico d’Orcia - the old town centre 
Montalcino and the Land of Brunello 
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete 
The Crete Senesi 
Castellina in Chianti and the Via Chiantigiana Towards Siena 
Siena and Southern Chianti - from the Castle of Montalto to the Castle of Brolio and on to the Castle of Meleto 
The Chianti Hills - Monte Calvo, Monte Luco and Monte San Michele 
Cortona and the Valdichiana 
San Gimignano - The old town centre and its major sights 
The Val d’Elsa - Monteriggioni and Colle di Val d’Elsa 
Along the Old Via Francigena 

  Typical products
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