28 May 2007: Italy…..At 1:30 PM we left for the small, medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano. The walled town is located between Siena and Florence, in the province of Siena in Tuscany, and is known for its many towers. There were originally 72 towers, built by wealthy families to show off their wealth and influence in the area. The larger the tower, the greater one’s status. Today there are only 14 towers left with only three being fully intact. The town achieved its greatest influence between 1100-1300 AD.
|San Gimignano Overlook – 16″x 12″ – Oil
(This painting is available through Greenhouse Gallery)
|The only remaining towers of San Gimignano|
What I found most exciting was the hilltop view. The scenery was just incredible. Maybe it was actually a blessing that it rained today because with the high winds, the sky was continually and rapidly changing from sun to rain and back again, creating some really dramatic panoramic shots.
|Beautiful countryside as viewed from San Gimignano|
I’m hoping I captured many valuable and useful pictures today. On the way to San Gimignano we stopped at an American cemetary that contained the bodies of some 5000 soldiers that had died in Italy while fighting to free Italy from tyranny.
|Cemetary honoring American soldiers who died in Italy during WWII|
After our stop in San Gimignano we continued on to the Castle Oliveto in Siena province, the Chianti region, where Chianti wine is made. The drive through the Tuscan countryside was spectacular. In the castle, where several popes, kings and generals from bygone days have stayed, we had a multi-course dinner which began with a wine tasting of 6-7 wines served with toast and a variety of spreads…olive, mushroom, tomato, and sausage. The meal consisted of all the wine we wanted, a ravioli dish, veal, turkey, a variety of vegetables, fried potatoes, bread, and a fruit bowl with ice cream.
|Castello di Oliveto|
It was a full day but a nice one. Everyone was in a very good mood while driving back to our hotel in Montecatini as Dean Martin’s, Come Back to Sorrento, filled the tour bus with beautiful music.