Thursday, October 20, 2011

6:30 - 7:30 - 8:30 Italian Style - Day 3


6:30 - 7:30 - 8:30

Today's adventure started with a 6:30 am wake up call which I decided to ignore. But I dragged my sorry self to the washroom and made myself presentable. Today we are driving to the picturesque town of San Gimignano. Famous not only for its ceramics but for its beautiful landscapes. Today's special is shopping, and what could be better than shopping for leather.

Heading sounth on the A1 the gathering dark clouds and hanging mist of rain threatened our third day in Tuscany. But as we headed closer towards our destination the Italian saint of weather "Saint Clare of Assisi" turned the day into something that painters dream of.

Tucked in the hill side 334m high dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers lies San Gimignano. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. The town increased in wealth and developed greatly during the Middle Ages thanks to the "Via Francigena" the trading and pilgrim's route that crossed it. Such prosperity lead to the flourishing of works of art to adorn the churches and monasteries. In 1199 it became a free municipality and fought against the Bishops of Volterra and the surrounding municipalities. Due to internal power struggles it eventually divided into two factions one headed by the Ardinghelli family (Guelphs) and the other by the Salvucci family (Ghibellines). On the 8th May 1300 Dante Alighieri came to San Gimignano as the Ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany. In 1348 San Gimignano's population was drastically reduced by the Black Death Plague throwing the city into a serious crisis which eventually led to its submission to Florence in 1353. In the following centuries San Gimignano overcame its decline and isolation when its beauty and cultural importance together with its agricultural heritage were rediscovered. The construction of the towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The architecture of the city was influenced by Pisa, Siena and Florence. There are 14th century paintings of the Sienese School to be seen and 15th century paintings of the Florentine School.

With so many things to see and do just spending a day here might not be the way to go but it would certainly be a place to return to.

Strolling from shop to shop, sitting in a cafe enjoying an espresso, or cooling off with a creamy smooth pistachio gellato. Each shop were filled with smells and colours, from leather artisan, to book making, to hand made scarfs made of wool for 185 EURO. There is something for everyone.

There were cheese shops with wonderful fragrances and aging meats curring, why there were even wild boar legs and head hanging. The best thing about this small town is the beautiful buildings. The many doors, knocks and small little alley ways and specialized shops

View as we arrived at San Gimignano 

Opening gates to the town

Wild Boar meat in the door entrance
Towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries

Typical shop filled with pasta, sauces, pesto and other Italian fair


Cheeses and curried meats ready for sale

 As we left for our next destination San Donato Winery I took the same shot I did when we arrived minus the misty and discovered a valley of well laid out vineyards and olive trees, you can't get any more Italian than that.

A Study of Doors and Knockers -SAN GIMIGNANO

One of my favorite things to study are old doors, windows, door handles or knockers, mailboxes and PA systems or door bells. I love discovering how different each one is what there function could have been for example I notice a lot of iron pieces that had hoops which I imagined were used to tie up horses.

The following images are some of the items I found as I discovered SAN GIMIGNANO

Tomorrow Part II of  Day 3 a visit to San Donato Winery. 

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