Guide to: San Gimignano, Volterra and Monteriggioni


Guide to: San Gimignano, Volterra and Monteriggioni

Leaving Siena South and proceeding toward Florence there is San Gimignano (Exit Poggibonsi Nord) which is about 74 km from Bucine. San Gimignano was declared by UNESCO: “Patrimonio dell’Umanità”. Inhabited by the Etruscans since the third century, A.C. it owes its name to Sigerico who called it "Sce Gemiane" just to highlight its strategic position as a point of intersection between Pisa and Siena. During the Middle Ages it was the scene of fierce wars between "Guelfi" and "Ghibellini". 
Among the many things to visit: “Piazza della Cisterna”, “Piazza del Duomo”, “Torre del Diavolo” (XI century) and “Palazzo Comunale” (XI century) as well as its famous “Torri” that decorate it and defend it for centuries. There is one of the most important museums in the world: the “Museo della Tortura” ( other popular museums are “Museo della Pena di Morte” and “Museo di Arte Sacra”.

Leaving San Gimignano an obligatory stop is Volterra (30 km north from San Gimignano). It is the Etruscan city par excellence and it still preserves the ancient ruins and charm. It was founded in the seventh century as "Velathri" at the hands of the Etruscans. In 90 A.C. it became Roman and was enrolled in the Sabatina tribes. It is in the high Middle Ages with the various Popes who Volterra began to be embellished with monuments that still today outline the magical boundary. And in a few centuries with the advent of the Industrial Age Volterra became the Alabaster homeland. Nowadays it has become a touring destination of a tourism not careful and characterized only by the search of the famous  (and never existed) Volturi from the Twilight saga. Film that was shot in Montepulciano. There are a lot things to see: “Palazzo dei Priori” (1208 – 1257), “Duomo” (XII century), “Fortezza Medicea” (1342), “Palazzo Viti” (XVI century), “Teatro Romano” (I century A.C.) and the ruins of the wonderful “Acropoli Etrusca”. Even the museums offer such beauty to look at: the “Museo Etrusco Guarnacci”, “Museo della Tortura di Volterra”, “Pinacoteca e Museo Civico”, “Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra” and “Ecomuseo dell’Alabastro”.

One of the most discussed Etruscan findings that characterizes the city of Volterra is “L’Ombra della Sera” (name attributed by the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio). It is a votive statue of about 57 cm, a male body, naked and stretched in an incredible way but it still retains all the proportions and it is considered worldwide as the ideal of absolute beauty. The statuette, dating from the third century A.C. it is now on display at the “Museo Guarnacci”.

Coming back from Volterra and taking the road, passing through Colle di Val D'Elsa, leads to the Strada Provinciale 540, Monteriggioni, on the right, is worth a visit. The tiny village preserves intact medieval wall elliptic adorned by 11 towers that rise above the walls drawing a past still alive and thriving. The entrance to the village is represented by “Porta Franca” or, perhaps more correctly  “Porta Roma” to indicate the geographical position towards which the village stars. Built with walls as all the medieval villages in 1213 its initial appearance probably foresaw a drawbridge, out of which there remains no trace. The Towers were 15 and soared to 15 meters in height, but over time they have been lowered and taken to the current 11.  In Monteriggioni it’s possible to find the “Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta” (1219), the big “Piazza Roma” overlooking the village and the museum “Monteriggioni in Arme” with highly valuable reproduction of medieval armor.


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