We stopped for a typical Tuscan lunch at a restaurant on a hilltop with great views across to the village of San Gigminano on another hilltop some distance away. All around us was the familiar Tuscan landscape. What you see in the postcards is what you get in reality here. It’s a treat for the eyes. Our lunch was good. We had a selection of local cheeses, meats and bread drizzled with olive oil with a glass of the local vernacchia white wine, followed by pasta with meat sauce and a glass of chianti, and finally a glass of dessert wine, vinsanto, with cantucci almond biscuits for dipping.
We drove on to San Gigminano, a walled village famous for its towers. The towers were once a status symbol for wealthy, important families in the village. Fourteen still stand today. Like Siena earlier in the day, only on a smaller scale, it was an enchanting medieval town with many of its streets, buildings and piazzas looking almost like they might have looked five or six hundred years ago. The architecture in the village is either Romanesque or Gothic. Of course, San Gigminano is now crawling with tourists and what were formerly people’s homes are now shops, but the place still retains its medieval charm.
Back in time, the city was a place where pilgrims would stop on their way to Rome. It traded in saffron, farm produce and vernacchia wine and its residents prospered. But the Black Plague decimated the population here and the townsfolk who survived were forced to submit the the rule of Florence.
The church here housed many art treasures from the early Renaissance. Its walls were essentially a gallery of wonderfully preserved frescoes, mainly from the 14th and 15th centuries, which illustrated familiar stories from the Bible.
As with Siena, we were limited with time here by the need to be back on the bus for the next part of the trip, so we only had about an hour, but we loved San Gigminano and thought it would be a wonderful place to stay for a few days.