Saturday, July 18, 2009

San Gimignano

San Gimignano was our second stop on the July 10 field trip. San Gimignano rises above the Elsa Valley. It was once a small Etruscan village in the Hellenistic Period. To many people it represents exactly what rural Tuscany should look like. It was founded by the Etruscans and developed its famed skyline of twoers through the 12th and 13th centuries due to the rivalries of noble families. Each family would try to outdo the other families by building bigger and taller towers as a show of their wealth. Only 15 of the original 72 towers still decorate the skyline.

It was controlled by two main families--the Ardinghelli and the Savucci--and feuding was common between the two. A combination of feuding and the Black Death of the 14th century finaly caused the town to lose its power and it was taken under the wing of Florence. Today the small village relies on tourism and on the production of its own white wine, Vernaccia, to get by.

Students found that the medieval town not only boasts of medieval architecture but has the best pizza and gelato "in the world."

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