|10:38 am - Tuscany 2013 - San Gimignano|
Next we drove to the Poggio Alloro farm
for lunch, an organic farm close to San Gimignano that also engages in agrotourism.
Pictured above, the tomboyish girl that showed us around the farm.
The room where they make their own wine.
The vines. They also make olive oil. All of those as well as other products can can be bought as gifts in their show.
According to our guide, some very special cows. But don't ask me what was so special about them.
The nice surrounding scenery of the Tuscan countryside. You can also book a few rooms at the farm if you want to experience a bit of farm life and use the place as a base for your trips in Tuscany.
Different sorts of cheese, pasta and wine were on offer for lunch. During lunch conversation I had to admit that I don't drink beer and drive a small Japanese car. Which obviously meant I can never be sure if I will be allowed to re-enter Germany.
From the farm you already a have a very nice view of the next destination, San Gimignano
with its medieval towers.
The main gate of the city, Porta San Giovanni.
The whole town is walled.
The Torre Grossa seen through the main gate. Starting in the 13th century there were some ongoing rivalries between the families of the Guelphs and Ghibellines, and towers of ever increasing heights were built. At one point there were about 70 of them with the highest of them being 70 metres tall. Because not a lot happened in the San Gimignano after the Middle Ages a lot of the town and fourteen of the towers are still preserved.
Judging by the amount of signs and entries I saw it looked like as if there are at least two or three "Torture Museums" in San Gimignano. But from what I've read, there's only one.
The main street up the hill.
From where you can glance inside a number of shops.
Nice tree away from the main street.
Arco and Torre dei Becci. The tower is from the 13th century, and back then the Beccis were an important family of merchants.
The Torre del Diavolo at the main square, the Piazza della Cisterna. If you played Assassin's Creed II you are probably familiar with the tower.
At the square, you can have the Best Ice Cream in the World.
Directly opposite you can buy ice-cream from the 2007 and 2009 Gelato World Champion. What are the odds?
The cistern that gives the piazza its name.
Pretty houses at the southern side of the square.
Torre Grossa in the back, and the two Torri degli Ardinghelli in the front, with the Ardinghellis being another merchant family. The were part of the Guelphs family.
The Torre Grossa, built in 1311, with a height of 54 metres, is the highest of the remaining towers. It is also the only one that can be climbed by the public.
The palazzo has been the seat of the civic authority since the 13th century.
The upper floors now house a museum, but you can freely enter the courtyard.
The twin Torri dei Salvucci. The Salvucci's were from the Ghibelline family and hence bitter rivals of the Ardinghelli's.
The Torre Rognosa, with a height of 51 metres, the second-highest remaining tower. It was already built in the early 13th century.
The lower part of the Torre Rognosa and some of the surrounding houses.
Moving a bit higher and to the west, through some olive trees and to the ruins of an old fortress.
In order to get the best views of some of the towers. The Torri dei Salvucci and La Rognosa.
An attempt to catch the most towers.
La Rognosa again in the back, the bell tower of the Church (which at one point might have been a regular town house) and the Torre Grossa where you can see a few people standing on the top.
The view to the west, Sant'Agostino Church and another nice view of the scenery.
Two more impressions of the streets and buildings.
A bit away from the main street you can find this detailed model that shows how San Gimignano looked like around 1300. Things haven't changed much since back then.
Access to the main model by now is free. I didn't have more time to look around, but I think there are a few more exhibits that show how life was like back then.
One of the streets parallel to the main street. Which feels a bit like looking behind the scenes of a movie set. Parked cars, very few people. And the ones you see probably actually live there.
The narrow alley that leads back to the main street.
While the stay in Siena was a bit too short. San Gimignano is a place that's very difficult to reach using public transportation. So visiting it with a bus tour is the best way to do it if you don't have access to a car.