Tuscan Time Capsules: The Medieval Towns of Siena and San Gimignano

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

People look for villas to rent in Tuscany for a variety of reasons.  Some want a chance to explore the local culture, others want to sample the region's infamous food and wine.  Many people choose to come to Tuscany because of the region's strong connection to medieval times.  You can travel to almost any country in Europe and find a castle for the middle ages, but there's something about Tuscany's many walled in cities and centuries old churches that keep bringing people back.  If you want to see some true architecture from the past, try visiting a these towns.

San Gimignano sits atop a hill that's about 50km south of Florence, and this small town of less than 7,000 people has been towering over the Tuscan landscape for centuries.  If you visit San Gimignano you'll notice that the town is surrounded by 14 enormous towers.  Those towers, along with the limestone walls, walkways and buildings, have been in the town since it was formed during the middle ages.  This small town has a very relaxed atmosphere, you could spend a lot of time visiting local shops and sampling local cuisine.  If you can handle the climb, go to the top of Torre Grossa on Popolo Square so that you can see a breathtaking and striking 360 degree view of the idyllic Tuscan countryside.

Siena is technically the name of a province and a city in Tuscany, but if you want to see architecture from the middle ages you'll want to head to the city.  The center of Siena has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and once you see it you'll understand why the city earned this distinct honor.  The city is famous for the annual Palio di Siena horse race, and it has been held for centuries in the city's Piazza del Ciampo.  Before Florence was considered the epicenter for Italian art and culture, there were artists in Siena working hard to make a name for themselves.  The Torre del Mangia is filled with sculptures and paintings from a variety of artists from the middle ages.

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