San Gimignano, Siena & Monteriggioni Castle from Florence
San Gimignano, Siena & Monteriggioni Castle from Florence: a day of Medieval wonder in the heart of Tuscany.
A NOTE ABOUT DRIVING TIMES
Florence-Siena, 75 min; Siena-Monteriggioni, 30 min; Monteriggioni-San Gimignano, 30 min; San Gimi-Florence, 45 min.
DETAILS: SAN GIMIGNANO, SIENA & MONTERIGGIONI CASTLE from Florence
Some people say Siena is the most beautiful city in Tuscany. The centre is dominated by Piazza del Campo, vast and shaped like a fan, which is the core of Siena’s civic life. Here you will want to tarry a while, and if it rains, consider yourself lucky! You will get to see magic patterns of rainwater descending the cleverly laid paving stones.
Architecture buffs will appreciate Siena’s great cathedral, begun in the 12th century in the Romanesque style but transformed in the 13th century into one of the finest examples of Italian Gothic. Equally as impressive is basilica San Domenico, austere and comparatively unadorned, but offering visitors the opportunity to view remains of Santa Caterina that are enshrined within.
Language aficionados will know that Tuscany is the birthplace of the modern Italian language — and in Siena you will find the purest spoken Italian (no regional accent).
Siena also serves as a market for the surrounding agricultural area which produces cattle, cereal grains, olives, and, above all, its Chianti wines.
During the Middle Ages Monteriggioni Castle was a defensive outpost of Siena in the war against Florence, occupying a strategic position on the Via Cassia. The word “castle” here translates more as “fortress”. Built in the early 13th Century, the tiny hamlet sits on top of a knoll, surrounded by a fortified wall that encircles it like a crown. Viewed from a distance, and especially when the gently sloping fields around it are green and lush, Monteriggioni is an inspiring sight. You might even feel as if you’ve time traveled!
To reach San Gimignano we will pass through the most wonderful Tuscan countryside — classic rolling hills, neatly-rowed vineyards and silvery-green olive groves, a living picture postcard!
San Gimignano, “the Manhattan of Tuscany”, is best known for its watchtowers that were a display of power and prosperity in Medieval times. Although only 14 of San Gimignano’s original 72 towers remain the effect is still dramatic and will give you lots of great photo opps.
Take your time strolling the narrow cobbled streets and open piazzas, and be prepared to step back in time. Art lovers may wish to spend some time in the church of Sant’Agostino to see the charming cycle of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli as well as a substantial selection of paintings and sculpture by some of Italy’s major Medieval and Renaissance artists. San Gimignano is also home to award-winning gelato; look for it in the main piazza.
SAN GIMIGNANO, SIENA & MONTERIGGIONI CASTLE from Florence
DURATION: 8 hrs
OTHER COSTS & NOTES
- CHURCH DRESS CODE
Proper attire is required to enter churches (bare shoulders must be covered and shorts/skirts must come down to your knees).
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