Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tuscany - San Gimignano and Siena

Ah, Tuscany. What a beautiful area! Olive groves, vineyards, fields of sunflowers. The scenery and the towns and buildings were like being inside a movie set. Here are some of my favorite pictures from each of the spots we visited (how do you select from 500+ photos???)

San Gimignano, a medieval town known for its towers. The first town to visit on the tour, I was overtaken with the age and history.

Piazza della Cisterna

This piazza had lots of shops with enticing ceramics and leather and gelato. As it was still morning, we opted for Caffe' Americano and Cappucino.

This was once the Duomo (cathedral), but since San Gimignano no longer has a bishop it has reverted to the status of a collegiate church. It was consecrated in 1148. It was closed to the public because of Sunday services. Sorry to have missed the frescos inside.

Siena, another medieval town, known for the Piazza del Campo, scene of the annual Palio horse races in July and August.

It poured just as we reached the piazza, so we had lunch under umbrellas and kept (relatively) dry. I had melon and prosciutto -- delicious!

And then the sun came out and we were able to explore the Piazza del Campo. Another movie set! Rather surreal. 16th century buildings. It is simply awesome to stand in such a location.

Chapel of Palazzo Pubblico and Mangia Tower (town hall)
Courtyard of the Podestà

Here you find the other symbol of Siena, the wolf with the two Roman twins, in gilded bronze.

But the real symbol of Siena is St. Catherine. We toured the Basilica of San Domenico, which is linked to the worship of Saint Catherine of Siena. San Domenico (St. Dominic) was founded by the Dominicans in 1125. The chapel houses the head and thumb of St. Catherine (neither of which did I photograph).

Madonna with Child by Francesco di Vannuccio

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