After our long day in Rome, we had another long day of touring, but this time we were in port at Livorno, and busing off to Tuscany. We chose a two-part tour, where we would spend the morning in San Gimignano, and the afternoon in Siena.
San Gimignano is an interesting place to visit, mostly because of what it wasn’t. During Medieval times and up into the 14th century, it was a stop on the way to the Vatican. It was well known for it’s medieval towers, which were built as a way for the wealthy family to flaunt their wealth. The higher the tower, the more wealth, and of course, the more you could see other families who might be trying to attack you. Eventually it got so out of control that the rulers of the city finally set a rule that no one could have a tower higher than the one at the Palazzo Communale, the community building. That situation remained in effect basically until the plague came to town, and the rest of Europe, at which point the city fell under the rule of Florence and lost any of it’s importance. In fact, it didn’t really have any strategic importance at all after that. Thus, the city is a great example of a walled medieval city, which still has over a dozen towers viewable from quite a ways away, because no one ever tried to conquer it, or rebuild it. It still has over a dozen of the medieval towers, and the city center is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Of interest, aside from the towers, are the piazzas, the Collegiate Church, and the lovely views of the Tuscan valleys from the hilltops. Also, the city has adapted to a new identity, of being a tourist destination, by having a number of small shops filled with the works of local artisans. We even picked up a jewelry box for our niece made of Carrara Marble, which comes from a local source, which we did see from the bus on the way.
All told, it was a lovely place to spend the morning, and though a bit off the beaten paths of Florence or Pisa that are in this region of Italy, worth your time to see something a little different!
You can see all the photos from this morning over on Flickr.