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May 21st 2017
Published: June 22nd 2017
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Geo: 43.3185, 11.3317

Walked around on Saturday seeing the sights. Elena and Valerio headed off to their second home in Livorno and left their place to us.

Full-day Tuscan trip on Sunday. First San Gimignano, then the village fort of Monterigginio and then Siena. Plus a stop at a Chianti vineyard on the way home, which wasn't until after 8pm.

Additional photos below
Photos: 7, Displayed: 7


Basilica di Santa Maria NovellaBasilica di Santa Maria Novella
Basilica di Santa Maria Novella

This "New" 13th century church was built on the site of a previous 9th century religious building. It's the principal Dominican church in Florence, situated near the main railway station that is named for the church. We've pretty much exhausted our interest in ABCs. And we've yet to investigate the Florence Duomo!
San GimignanoSan Gimignano
San Gimignano

We revisited the town and what a surprise - it looks no different than it did several years ago. We climbed the Torre Grossa, 214 steps up the tallest tower and were rewarded with a great view in all directions.
Rolling Tuscan hillsRolling Tuscan hills
Rolling Tuscan hills

In its heyday San Gimignano boasted 70 towers. But as the warring families conquered each other, they demolished the losers' towers and now 14 towers remain. The 1348 Black Plague devastated the town and it lay dormant for many centuries. It is only in the last century or so that the town has slowly revitalised. San Gimignano is also the only region to produce white Chianti wine, called Vernaccia.
Town well and more towersTown well and more towers
Town well and more towers

Check out the weather, again!

Built in the early 13th century by the city of Siena as a forward defence, fortified village. Siena and Florence warred for centuries until Florence finally triumphed in the mid 1500s.

Siena's famous Piazza del Campo is the venue for the annual Palio horse races. On two evenings In July and August, 10 bare-back riders race clockwise around the square three times. The winner can be a riderless horse and it is as important to win as to prevent your rival from winning! The second horse is considered The Loser. The stones are covered with compacted soil, but even so it is a hairy race. The typical winning time for the 1300m race is 75 sec. The winner gets a banner and huge bragging rights over the defeated districts. Robyn with Carlos and Alex, from Colombia.
Duomo de SienaDuomo de Siena
Duomo de Siena

The cathedral is impressive, especially its 50 or so marble-inlaid floor panels and the remarkably well-preserved 14th century frescos. Four Michelangelo statues adorn one of its chapels. Extensions to make it bigger than Florence's Duomo were well advanced, until the Black Plague struck. 60-70% of the population perished and the city took a long time to recover. The extensions were never completed. You can just see part of them, peeking over the building to the right of the Duomo.

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