There is nothing like a period drama to stir the soul, not least when an exotic location enables escapism, both historical and geographical. Such is the enduring magnetism of a film like A Room With a View. Starting a young Helena Bonham-Carter and the endlessly successful partnership of Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, it is the very essence of period delicacy, all set against a stunning Tuscan backdrop. Having become hooked on the film last year, it has gained a near gospel status in our household, and when a trip to see relatives in Tuscany beckoned this Easter, the film was omnipresent in our preparations. As we looked at the map and planned towns and cities to visit, the voice of Judy Dench as Eleanor Lavish pervaded. Recommending Monteriggioni to her fellow diners as a must-do destination, we felt persuaded to follow suit. Many years have past since the novel (on which the film is based) was written, but Tuscany is a richly historical land, steeped in the past, and we were sure it’s charm would not have disappeared with the period.
Charm we found in buckets when eventually we made it to this idyllic Tuscan village, whose miniature scale is tightly contained within the impressive and historically unbreachable castle walls that encircle it. Located within the gently undulating hilly green landscape which has put Tuscany on the tourist map for centuries, the castle town is practically untouched by the passage of time, with a historical core which has escaped the sullying of modern expansion.
The Great Walls of Monteriggioni
Based around a tidy little Square whose central stone fountain is partnered by a rustic stone church, everything in Monteriggioni is rendered in miniature albeit with a distinctive flavour of power reflected by the imposing walls which encircle it. A walk around those walls was a clear highlight of the visit, not least for the Tuscan views punctuated by cypress trees and sun dappled hillsides.
No wonder Monteriggioni was on the wish list of visitors making their way to Tuscany in the late 19th century. Happily for we romantics of the 21st, very little has changed, enabling a level of escapism which only a carefully staged period drama might otherwise provide.
The rolling Tuscan landscape surrounding Monteriggioni
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