Feuds, discord and illness. Our history is filled with tragedies. So is the story of the small Tuscan village of San Gimignano. Tuscany's "Manhattan".
Once upon a time there were two families in Tuscany who hated each other. To show their power and tease the other family, they built towers. The higher the tower one family built, the higher the tower the other family needed to build. Finally, the city got tired of the families' silent struggle and set strict rules around the tower construction. By then the fight had gone on for 200 years and the city had 72 towers.
It is easy to recognize San Gimignano from a distance. Although the vast majority of the medieval towers are today destroyed, a total of 14 towers remain. Quite a considerable amount for a small village among olive groves and cypresses. A memorial of the Middle Ages, untouched and unchanged. Almost nothing has been renewed here in the last 700 years. The reason for this? The plague.
The Black Death hit San Gimignano big. In just a few days in the year 1348, half the city's population had died. The once strong and rich city fell into oblivion and into poverty. No one could afford to build towers anymore. Everyone was just fighting to survive. But thanks to the hard years, the city has been preserved and today San Gimignano is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
A visit to San Gimignano is not just a visit to the Middle Ages, but a visit among beautiful squares, ramparts and churches - all with a lovely view of the lush surrounding vineyards. If you want to taste a local specialty is the wine Vernaccia of San Gimignano a white wine that is only produced here in the area. Another delicacy that you will also find here is truffles. In Italy there are 25 different types of truffles, several of which thrive in the shaded and moist green valleys. Take the opportunity to enjoy a really lovely pasta with truffle sauce before you leave here, the smell will be your best travel memory. A scent to bring out of the memory during dark November nights.
How do I get to San Gimignano?
San Gimignano is 6 miles south of Florence and 5 miles northwest of Siena. There are no trains to San Gimignano, but there are buses from, for example, Siena.
Do you want a bonus tip?
In San Gimignano is located Dondoli ice cream parlor, an ice cream maker that won the "Ice Cream World Championship" not just once, but twice. You have to eat gelato at least once a day in Italy, so take the opportunity to try the world champion's Crema di Santa Fina – a gelato made from pine nuts and saffron.
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