Volterra, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni





Volterra is located on top of this hill. It was one of the largest Etruscan cities in Italy, and dates back to 4000 years BC.




The streets are very narrow, and ancient buildings shrink the pedestrians.





The alabaster mines date back to early Etruscan times. The sculpting of alabaster is still a big industry here. Simple things like paper weights, candle sticks and picture frames to...




...Serious works of art for table and home. beautiful stuff.




A local bar on a cold Volterra evening is a welcome sight. In we go!



San Gimighnano


San Gimighnano is famous for its fourteen remaining towers. These were supposed to be for looking out for invaders, but became status symbols for the wealthy families that built them. So every important family had their own tower. Today, S.G. is a popular tourist center, and also famous for its ceramics, its white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimighnano, and finally as an art center.




Looking out to the southeast towards Siena




This is the single north-south road inside the walls of the city. Shopping on both sides the entire length.




The piazza at the center of town. The well in the center, or cisterna , is a popular spot for eating gelato sold by at least four stores on the piazza.




A high school class from one of the nearby cities enjoys a field day.




Looking back to the center from the far north end of the main drag.




A typical deli selling many goodies, including the local wild pig, and Vernaccia wine.




We stocked up at the next one! Couldn't resist those boar heads...




Ceramics galore...




...and more...




...And more. Pretty neat stuff.




That high school group has divided up into teams and are sketching the front of a famous old church.




My favorite place is this open spot on the main street right off the piazza. These old guys produce a running commentary on every female that walks past. Great fun to watch them, and the reactions of the females. Think I see a spot there for me to sit and join in...





This is a perfectly preserved fortified medieval city. Built in the year 1203 to guard Siena's territory from the Florentines. It was mentioned in Dante's Inferno. It actually was successful, in that it withstood a 21 month seige by the Florentine armies without being captured.




The gate is under this tower, and protected by two heavy iron doors that slide into place.





Center of the village inside the wall. Strong and cold spring winds have discouraged all but the hearty tourists. This is usually very popular. Several good restaurants, and a small but excellent hotel.





The small church.




Full panorama of the village inside of the wall.



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