The castle-town of Monteriggioni is one of Tuscany's most splendid sights - a circular hamlet completed enclosed within its walls. Built in the early 1200s along the Via Cassia, it served as a defensive structure and boasts 14 towers to survey the vast countryside for approaching enemies, with two gates to ensure the safety of those within.

The passing centuries haven't changed Monteriggioni; it is still like it was in the 1200s (but with electricity and indoor plumbing!) It is always a fascinating place, but even more so the first two full weekends of July when it hosts the Monteriggioni Medieval Festival. While there are many such festas and Palio events around the region, this one really makes you feel like you're stepping back in time, given its authentic, well-preserved state. Add in the costumes and ambiance, and you'll swear you're in Medieval Tuscany!

The festival kicks off with a Grand Banquet in the piazza. Then the following days and evenings are dedicated to medieval games of skill, the old craftsmen at work, and colorful parades. You'll witness knights and warriors as they test their strength, processions of dames and dignitaries in elegant garb. There are entertaining street shows, magic and fireworks, along with dancing and music and plenty of food and wine.

The festival is held the first two full weekends of July, starting on Thursday evening with the banquet. There is an entry fee for the festival. You'll find more details on their website.

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