Sunday, August 2, 2009


Before starting our trip home to Rome after visiting Siena we made a small "birdwalk" to Monteriggioni. It is a small, but wonderfully preserved medieval fortification built in 1203 by the Sienese to defend their northern border against their Florentine enemies.

From the road you first see the 14 towers inserted in the ring of walls.

Dante mentions 14 towers in his Inferno, describing the towers as giants surrounding hell's abyss. We saw the quotation carved on a plaque inside the gate.

Inside the walls are just a couple dozen houses, a hotel, a church, and a few restaurants around the piazza in front of the church. The church was dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta sometime before 1235.

The crucifix in the church was carved by an anonymous Florentine in the early 17th century. It is made of different pieces of wood for the arms, head and torso, fitted together and nailed, and then pained in oil. During a restoration in 1998 there was an unexpected discovery. Inside the head, behind the face of Christ, an inscription was found written in ink by the unknown artist: "Dear Jesus, into your holy arms I entrust my soul."

Note about "birdwalking" : Most people travel in a straight path to get from one location to another. I often find myself "birdwalking" as I go from one place to the next, zig-zagging back and forth, observing what is around me, much in the same way a bird goes about in a zig-zag way, looking for food.

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