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San Gimignano, Monteriggioni, Siena & Chianti

ITALY | Thursday, 26 January 2017 | Views [257]

Countryside around San Gimignano

Countryside around San Gimignano

For our first big day out of Florence we joined a tour first to San Gimignano, an Italian medieval village, virtually unchanged through the ages. It sits atop a hill, and still has 14 of its original towers. These towers were built by local families, each one wanting to build their tower higher than the next. As we explored we grabbed a tasty gelato to boost our energy levels for climbing more hills and steps. It is a beautiful village with steps and laneways heading off the main streets in every direction, and spectacular vistas across olive groves and vineyards. Before rejoining our bus we enjoyed a cappuccino at a local cafe (also a good opportunity to use the loo) beside a window with more incredible views.

After a short drive we pulled in to a Chianti winery for a taste of the local red And some lunch. The winery has been in the same family for many generations and they produce the Chianti Classico, a wine that is certified as unique to the region. Our lunch was shared around a tables of other travellers from around the globe. Not an Aussie in sight.

After we we replete from our lunch our bus headed off for a brief stop in Monteriggioni. A medieval fortress town atop a hill. As with San Gimignano it remains almost unchanged through the ages. A very quiet spot, especially at this time of the year. We walked back down the hill to the bus through a shady and peaceful olive grove.

Our final stop for the day was Siena. A local tour guide with a wealth of historical knowledge showed us through the centre of the city, a UNESCO world heritage site. Firstly to the Piazza del Campo where every year in the Summer each of the city's 17 "contradas" (suburbs) compete in the Palio horse race. The winner is the first horse over the finish line, with or without a rider. We climbed further in to the city to reach the cathedral of the city, a spectacular black (although it's really a dark green) and white marble striped structure set, as with all of the churches/cathedrals/basilicas that we've seen, in its own piazza. Dedicated to the Assumption of Mary, the cathedral has one of the most intricately, decorative facades which was designed by Giovanni Pisano and constructed over a period of about 50 years, but was built on the site of an earlier structure. We've discovered that Pisano features in art and construction throughout Tuscany.

Leaving Siena after dark we made it back to our Florence apartment weary after 12 hours on the go.

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