Day seventy-two: Colle di Val d’Elsa to Monteriggioni

After our breakfast fit for the nobles that once inhabited the Palazzo Renieri, we explored the alleys of the upper town enroute to the elevator to take us to the lower town, then the inevitable slog alongside a busy road during morning rush hour until we hit the countryside- and keep in mind that rush hour in Italy is a tad earlier as school starts at 0800.

It was another grand day for sauntering through the Tuscan landscape as it was more or less Goldilocks weather – not too hot, not too cold. Despite it being another relatively short day, we found a way to take a short cut along the road towards the end of the leg, which preserved a token amount of energy for the steep approach to the town of Monteriggioni. Actually fortress would be a better word, as it is one road and a couple of alleys wide, and not much longer, and is still surrounded by its medieval walls and towers. It was a stronghold in the frontline in the wars between Siena and Florence and gave protection to the trade and pilgrimage routes, such as the via francigena.

The view the Florentines would have had

Today it is a tourist stop, but for most, not a stay, as the town is so small – just a smattering of bars, restaurants and the inevitable stores selling products typical of the region (read wine!). Our Ostello was closed until 1500 for check in, but somehow amidst the translated confusion, we got checked in early and we free of our bags, allowing us to thoroughly explore the town. That took about 45 minutes, so we then retreated to one of the bars for a very prolonged lunch of a sampler of local cheeses and meats and generous amounts of fizzy water. We’d earlier had a coffee at the same establishment, so when we returned in the evening for a pre-dinner beverage we’d almost become a fixture. Being Italy, the owner allowed us to buy a bottle of wine from her store, then opened it and gave us glasses so we could sit at her tables in the square. And we lashed out on a nice bottle of Chianti from the local Monteriggioni winery for the princely sum of 6€ ($10 CAD), and he was a very nice drop I may add. After wining we went dining, requiring a circuit of the square checking the menus of all three restaurants. We got the impression they were in collusion, as the prices and many menu items were the same!

The end of day ascent to a hilltop town requires focus!

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