26 September 2014

Cavorting with the Companion: San Gimignano

San Gimignano is perhaps my most favorite daytrip we have done while we were in Tuscany. We were still based in Florence at that time, and so one early morning, we opted to take the bus to head down south to the province of Siena. We first took a bus to Poggibonsi, and from there we transferred to a bus heading to San Gimignano. This town is known for its medieval towers, which pretty much makes it look like a medieval-looking Manhattan in the middle of the Tuscan hills.

March perhaps is a good time to visit, as it was not too hot, it was rather cool, and there weren't too many visitors yet. There were visitors checking out the city during the day, but the small city wasn't overwhelmed by them. It is still easy to get lost wandering among the narrow streets, checking out the medieval buildings as well as the towers that pepper the town.

The center of town is where the Piazza della Cisterna can be found. This piazza is triangular in shape, and in the middle is a well that the medieval residents used to get their water from. I am not sure whether the well is still functioning, but regardless, it was a nice ornament in the oddly-shaped piazza. The well dates from 1346.

San Gimignano looks like a medieval Manhattan rising from the green Tuscan hills, and it is most spectacular when one sees it while approaching it, in a bus. In the middle of nowhere, you see this little gathering of towers from a distance. In medieval times, towers were a symbol of wealth, so wealthy families built them in their houses. San Gimignano has managed to conserve 14 of these structures. Bologna also has a bunch of towers one can climb, but San Gimignano is where the towers make a dramatic skyline.

One of the towers in San Gimignano is open for visitors. So we went up and climbed it. It was very tall, and we spent a significant part of the climb pausing at the staircase that is located inside, winding in this brick hollow tower. The top was amazing, and provided magnificent views, as you can see above.

Finally, the pictures I show above were taken from our visit to a villa. We opted to check out a small villa that now functions as a museum, which provided a glimpse of how medieval life was like in this village.

Overall, I definitely recommend this place to visitors in Tuscany. It's a little out of the way, but easily reachable by buses from Florence. And it provides a spectacular Tuscan experience that is unique, something that is quite different due to the fact that the Florentine crowds are miles away, allowing you to peacefully walk the medieval streets in peace and solitude.

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