Piazza Cisterna in San Gimignano,Tuscany, Italy. Photo by Chris Wee.
There are many small villages and towns throughout the beautiful region of Tuscany in Italy that still retain their history and character. Two such towns are Volterra and San Gimignano, close the famous cities of Florence and Siena.
Volterra has a population of approx 11,000 and is quieter and more of a working town than its neighbour.
Two places to see are the Roman Theatre, excavated in the 1950’s and the Cathedral Palazzo dei Priori.
Your visit should also include a walk around the town to find the traditional Italian craftsmen working with their hands in small workshops. Watch them carving stone and making products in paper and leather.
A short journey will bring you to San Gimignano. Although it has a smaller population than Volterra, with around 7,000 people, it is more visited by tourists.
The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts people wanting to see the many fantastic artworks by some of Italy’s top Renaissance artists. Good places to see these are in the Collegiata and Sant’Agostino churches and the Communal Palace.
As in many places in Italy the rich built high towers on their properties so they could keep a look out for rivals approaching. In this town the enemies were in Florence. Seventy two towers were built, including two in the 10th century, but the more wealthy and powerful Florentines destroyed many during battles. Today only 14 remain and they tell an important part of the town’s history.
Rick Steves enjoyed his visit to these towns. Read about it in his European Travel column at this website: http://tinyurl.com/3tra26e