SIENA AND SAN GIMIGNANO

Full day tour in the centre of Tuscany, between the Florentine Chianti hills and the Siena Chianti hills. From Florence we drive the ancient Roman road: the Cassia or #2, then the “PALIO”, the connection linking Florence and Siena. We are crossing the Elsa valley and just from the connection we can admire the exclusive outline of the famous towers of San Gimignano, the most preserved walled hill top medieval town in Tuscany.
 
  
 
San Gimignano set on the Roman pilgrim route, the Francigena road. Strategic location dominating the valley, above the Vernaccia vines. Today San Gimignano is a open live museum, named the town of the “belle torri”. The fine towers has been 76 between the 12th and 13th century, today only 13 are left.
The town has been rich and powerful until the middle XIVC, unfortunately the Black Death decimated the population and the city fell under the Florentine control. This important city became an economic backwater bypassed by the Renaissance and the misfortune made it the best preserved medieval town in Tuscany.
The centre of the civil life is Duomo square. The Romanesque church, the Collegiata, is one of the most frescoed in Italy. Also in Duomo square is the Palazzo del Popolo, housing the civic museum.
 
Left San Gimignano, driving a panoramic country road the top of the Siena Chianti hills, we keep to cross the Elsa valley, Siena direction. On the way we stop to take lunch at the castle of Monteriggioni.
  
The XIIIc circle of walls and the 14 towers survived practically intact.
 
Inside, the main square with the classic well in the centre, the original barracks around, and a couple of very good restaurants.
 
After lunch same mails again and we arrive in Siena.

       
Siena, the white and black city, from his stripped Cathedral, black and white is his emblem. Siena was founded by the Romans “Sena Julia” in the 62 bc. This beautiful city is completely different from Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance sitting down the Arno river valley, the location of Siena is on top of three hills. Siena the Gothic dream of Tuscany. We do a short city tour up and down his alleys until Duomo square where we stop to visit the Cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Italy,
  
From Duomo square, the highest and oldest part of the city we walk down by steep alley to XIIc Campo square, the centre of the civil life, the scene of the famous Palio. The shell shaped Campo square is the political centre, we can admire the Gothic masterpieces, the dignified Palazzo Pubblico surmounted by the Torre del Mangia


     



   THE CHIANTI COUNTRY

One nice half or full day sightseeing tour, driving through symmetrical vineyards, olive trees, wooded groves, stone houses, late Renaissance villas and medieval villages.
The Chianti is large oval area between Florence and Siena the heartland called Classico Chianti. From this area the famous Classico
Chianti wine named GALLO NERO, the symbol of this region and his wine and the lightest olive oil in Italy : the “extra vergine” olive oil.
Driving the Chiantigiana road, the main country road linking Florence and Siena, the panoramic view, above the carefully vineyards, the typical elegant farm houses, is really gorgeous. In the centre of the Chianti Classico we find one small and pretty nice market town, Greve in Chianti, the capitol of the Classic Chianti.

We stop in Matteotti square, the centre of the civil life.
The attractive triangular square with elegant porticoes is the scene of famous annual wine fairs.
In the centre the statue of Giovanni da Verrazzano, the explorer of the Manhattan island, not to far there is his medieval castle.
  
 
But another famous family lived here: the Vespucci family. Just up Greve we can visit the enchanting Montefioralle castle, the birthplace of the Vespucci.

  

On Sunday, Matteotti square is full of people from Florence and other cities too, to take “merenda” that consist in a light slow lunch based on wine tastings and snacks: ham, salami, wild boar sausages, sheep cheese, bruschetta with garlic and extra virgin olive oil. After same mails on the south west, there is my prefer, real, private farm: “fattoria MONTAGLIARI”, the name of the district. The Migliorini family is really kind and hospitable. His wine cellar is spectacular, we taste their wine Classico Chianti” and the food, inside the country house there is the small TRATTORIA MONTAGLIARI, in spring and summer time we can take lunch or dinner in the garden, overlooking the vineyards and part of the valley.
  
Crossed Panzano, picturesque medieval hill top town, originally a medieval castle, we can reach, driving to west, Castellina in Chianti, another small well kept medieval town, with a XVC castle and town gate, strategic location dominating the Elsa valley.

     

Down to the Elsa valley, in a delightful setting, enclosed by cypress trees and surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, the XIC monastery of the Badia a Passignano, under the monastery the old wine cellars own the Antinori family.
On the other opposite side, the southern borders of the Classico Chianti area, I have to underline the beauty and the charm of Radda in Chianti and the Volpaia castle
 

          
   
        

 

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