Travel Guide To Tuscany

Not far from Siena, and only 50 kilometers or so south of Florence in the heart of Tuscan Italy, you will find the medieval precursors of skyscrapers in this gem of a walled hilltop city overooking the Elsa valley.

Actually, the numerous tall stone towers are only around 50 meters high, and of the 70 or more originally built by the weathy residents in the 14th century, only about 14 remain. But in their context, they stand out impressively and create a unique architectural curiosity with a peaceful ambience, both as landmarks to view from a distance and to walk around or explore up close.

Inside many of these vertical embellishments to the skyline, which are often extensions of a church, are preserved treasures of early Renaissance art. The main ones to visit are the Collegiata, which was originally a cathedral, and Sant Agostino, where you will stumble delightedly upon frescoes and early paintings by a range of Italy’s most famous artists. There is also an official Town Gallery in the former Palacio Comunale off the main Piazza Cisterna, where by following in Dante’s footsteps through his Hall, you may view works by Lippi, Pinturicchio, and Pier Francesco Fiorentino to name but a few. From here, you can also access the largest tower, or Torre Grosso.

There is not a great deal else to do except enjoy walking around the narrow cobbled lanes, soaking up the pervasive sense of history and culture, and investigating some of these hidden charms. But you may well wish to taste some of the local produce, and especially the now-famous Vernaccia white wine, which goes down a treat with fish and seafood cooked up in the romantic and intimate local eateries. Try, for instance, the Antica Taverna up by the San Matteo Gate, or Dulcisinfundo in Via degli Innocenti near the center, which also has live jazz music and panoramic views. A good way to combine all these pastimes and gastronomic delights is to sign up for a guided wine-tasting tour, taking in lunch outside the city followed by a walking tour of the main squares and a limousine home.

Finally, you may well want to rest and relax at the end of a long day, or stay overnight as a break in your journey from Florence to Rome as the ancient pilgrims did, and there are a number of good accommodation options for you to choose from, including rooms in villa-hotels, apartments in the historical centre, or bed and breakfast in farmhouses nearby, most of which retain the original fetaures of old buildings but completely refurbished to a high standard inside. For example, try Busini Rossi Carla, with its wonderfully restored rooms and apartments located in a back alley right in the center, or Il Girasole, a family-run farmhouse just 5kms away with a view back towards the city towers, where you can enjoy the local produce and wine, and which even comes complete with a swimming pool.

All in all, San Gimignano is an essential if brief part of a tour of Tuscany, where you should not fear to tread (as it was the setting for E. M. Forster’s novel of that name in 1905) and will not forget easily – not only for its strange and imposing towers, but because it is steeped in the history of poets and artists, their patrons and religious leaders from the time of our civilization’s re-birth

Raj Aryan is a content writer. Presently working with a Tour Package company. Find India vacation packages and online at Cheap flights tickets to India, providing the best selection and availability of cheap tickets.

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Surrounded by a double wall that dates back to medieval times and amid the gentle undulating hills of Tuscany, is the town of San Gimignano, with its striking 15 towers that were built by competing aristocratic families. The towers were considered to be of great prestige and also provided a means of defense. Competition to construct the tallest tower became increasingly fierce until a special decree curtailed the mindless indulgence of the local aristocracy. The town’s prosperity came to a sudden end and in 1348, the plague killed thousands of its inhabitants. Located next to the cathedral, the Palazzo Comunale contains numerous works of art. Since it was built at the end of the 13th century, it has been extended many times. Frescos adorned with several of the town’s historic symbols decorate the walls of a tranquil inner courtyard. The 14th century was a prosperous time for many of the townsfolk. At a height of 54 metres, even today, the Communal Palace’s Torre Grossa rises above each one of the town’s further towers. For several centuries, San Gimignano’s towers have been a prominent part of the town’s noble silhouette amid the captivating landscape of Tuscany.
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