Saturday, October 29, 2011

San Gimignano, Italy

Last night, Miran, his friend Brane, and I began our Italian road trip to Tuscany and San Marino. We left Murska Sobota at 6 pm and spent the night in Monselice. It's in northeast Italy, about 20 km (12 miles) from Padua, near Bologna and Venice. We didn't have any time to explore Monselice but it looked like a cute little town and I'll be sure to put it on the list of places to visit. Possibly next year since I hope to visit Venice in 2012. Anyway...moving on.

From Monselice we made our way down to Tuscany. Our first stop of the day was the small town of San Gimignano. The town looks like a little medieval metropolis with its 14 preserved stone towers. San Gimignano is sometimes called the "Medieval Manhattan".

The city was founded in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans. During the Middle Ages and Renaissance era it was an important stop for Catholic pilgrims on the way to Rome and the Vatican. The city did well until 1348 when, like the rest of Europe, it was hit hard by the plague. It wasn't until the 19th century that San Gimignano became popular as a tourist destination.

San Gimignano is a beautiful hilltop city but you can pretty much see everything in just a few hours. At the Piazza del Duomo is the cathedral, town hall and the Torre Grossa.

The best part for me was the Torre Grossa which, at 177 feet, is the tallest tower in town. Once you climb up to the top of the bell tower you have a great view of the city and the surrounding vineyards.

In 1990, San Gimignano's historic city center was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

One of the best things about being in a car, as opposed to taking a bus tour, was that we were able to explore the surrounding hills to find a great view of the town's towers.

After we took all of our photos it was time to drive about 45 minutes to Siena.

Rick Steves does a far better tour that I do so here's his video on San Gimignano which I found out on YouTube. Enjoy!

©Rick Steves

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