After leaving the famous city of Florence, colored by its buzzing streets and magnificent architecture, we headed south to explore the rich lands of the Tuscan countryside. The first stop of our journey was a town called San Gimignano. The drive to the town was almost as glorious as the town itself, endless miles of scenic rolling hills, enriched with vineyards and groves of olive trees.
The town is set on a hill with narrow streets, cobblestone roads, and high defensive walls. The most noticeable characteristic about the town are its famous towers which date back to a period when prosperous families sought prestige by building towers to match the height of their status. Currently 14 of the 72 original towers still remain. We were lucky enough to climb the Torre Grossa to catch an exquisite view of the piazza and the rolling hills of Tuscany. Despite the fierce winds at the top of the tower, the essence of beauty and culture this little town exuded is one I will always remember.
Continuing on the cultural leg of the journey our travels took us to the Tuscan city of Siena. Nothing is better than eating gelato and roaming the streets of Siena. This little medieval town has insanely steep cobblestone streets that will give your glutes a run for their money.
The central piazza, known as Il Campo, (at right), is shaped like a seashell, which is different than any other piazzas we’ve seen. We learned that a horse-race occurs twice a year in July and August around the piazza, and each of the 18 districts of Siena has it’s own horse and flag.
The Duomo of Siena (at left), is nothing shy of spectacular.
One of my favorite pictures taken on this trip was the cathedral with its zebra like black and white stripes and large pane circular window that let the sunlight flow through. We left Siena right at sunset, as we strolled through the streets, the ambience of the muted voices and dim street-lights was warm and soothing.
For a moment there, I lost myself in the breathtaking beauty of Siena and stopped in time in the 13th century. Check back for the next blog post as we pick up our CHS Inc. agricultural tour of Italy with a tour of a Tuscan winery run by one family for 13 generations.