San Gimignano

posted in: Travel | 6

After our long day in Rome, we had another long day of touring, but this time we were in port at Livorno, and bussing off to Tuscany. We chose a two-part tour, where we would spend the morning in San Gimignano, and the after noon 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.

The Towers of San Gimignano form a skyline Continued

Rome

posted in: Travel | 7

What to say about Rome? Before this trip, I had never been there. Opinions on visiting Rome vary greatly, from “too crowded”, to “amazing”. The one thing everyone agreed on, though, was that you have to see it for yourself. As someone who has always been interested in history, of course I was excited to see it and to wander around some of the oldest structures that I have ever seen in person.
Outside the Colisseum Continued

Palermo Sicily

posted in: Travel | 3

General Strike Palermo Nov 15 2013

We arrived in Palermo to the news that there would be a general strike in the city that day. No expectation that it would interfere too much with any of our plans but, you just never know. Truthfully, Palermo has a big city feel, lots of hustle and bustle. When you throw in a general strike to the mix, well it feels very chaotic. Very unlike the peaceful streets of Erice, or the peaceful feel of Tuscany that we would experience later in the trip. In retrospect though, it may have been a good warmup for Rome. 😉

Continued

Trapani Sicily

posted in: Landscape, Travel | 2

After our morning excursion up to the town of Erice, we had a free afternoon to wander around Trapani before boarding the ship. Trapani, being a port city that juts out into the Mediterranean, with cathedrals and  pedestrian plazas, left us with plenty of things to wander around and see.

Looking down from Mt. Erice to Trapani

Colombaia Castle

Continued