Il tour

Discover rural Tuscany on an excursion to two medieval walled towns. Explore San Gimignano on your own with your driver/guide and then take a guided walking tour in Volterra to visit the major sights. Sample the local cuisine and shop for fine wines, statues and ceramics.

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Contact

Telephone

+39 3483344035

Email

lisa@stepintoflorence.com

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What You Visit?

San Gimignano rises on a hill (334m high) dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. The town increased in wealth and developed greatly during the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena - the trading and pilgrim's route that crossed it. Such prosperity lead to the flourishing of works of art to adorn the churches and monasteries.
 
In 1199 it became a free municipality and fought against the Bishops of Volterra and the surrounding municipalities. Due to internal power struggles it eventually divided into two factions one headed by the Ardinghelli family (Guelphs) and the other by the Salvucci family (Ghibellines). On the 8th May 1300 Dante Alighieri came to San Gimignano as the Ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany. In 1348 San Gimignano's population was drastically reduced by the Black Death Plague throwing the city into a serious crisis which eventually led to its submission to Florence in 1353. In the following centuries San Gimignano overcame its decline and isolation when its beauty and cultural importance together with its agricultural heritage were rediscovered.
 
The construction of the towers dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The architecture of the city was influenced by Pisa, Siena and Florence. There are 14th century paintings of the Sienese School to be seen and 15th century paintings of the Florentine School. Fortified walls and watchtowers were hallmarks of power and prosperity in the Middle Ages. Thirteen of the town's original 76 towers remain. Approximately 1 1/2 hours are allowed to stroll the narrow cobbled streets to take in San Gimignano's sights, including the triangular Piazza Cisterna. The Piazza del Duomo is the site of the Collegiata, a Romanesque cathedral known for its fine frescoes.
 
After disovering San Gimignano you will departure to discover the medieval town of Volterra. Lunch is on your own but we also offer you (and recommend) to stop on the way to Volterra and have lunch in one of the beautiful local “agriturismo”, a good way to rest and to appreciate the local cuisine. Also you can buy local products directly from the producer!! The journey between san Gimignano e Volterra will take approximately 40 min.
 
Arrive at Volterra and start a visit of the center and then after enjoy free time on your own before going back to “real life”. Volterra was a trading center since the days of the Etruscans, and its sits on a rocky plateau. The town was a Neolithic settlement and an important Etruscan center with an original civilization; it became a municipium in the Roman Age. The city was a bishop's residence in the fifth century and its Episcopal power was affirmed during the twelfth century. With the decline of the episcopate, Volterra became a place of interest of the Florentines, whose forces conquered Volterra. Florentine rule was not always popular, and opposition occasionally broke into rebellion. These rebellions were defeated by Florence. When the Florentine Republic fell in 1530, Volterra came under the control of the Medici family and later followed the history of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Your walking tour takes in the Piazza dei Priori, one of Italy's most impressive squares, the Piazza San Giovanni, site of the Duomo and Baptistery, and the ruins of an ancient Roman theater that dates back to the 1st century B.C.

General Info

Shopping

Take some time to shop for ceramics and wines during your visit to San Gimignano. Volterra is famous for the production of alabaster articles, and you will find many shops with beautiful alabaster statues and furniture. Shopping is limited on Sundays.
Duration

9 to 10 hours
Pick Up

Depending on guests’ request. Also pick up available in the port of Livorno.

Transportation:

with a car or a minivan for up to 8 passangers.

Intended For:

visitors who would like to discover the true tuscna countryside. A journey through the beauty and the history of this amazing area.