Southwest of Florence
After breakfast we took a tour through the wine fields and the wine cellar of Tenuta di Sticciano. Since more than 200 years the Sangiovese grape is cultivated here. Nowadays the wine making is a fully biological process with natural fermentation. As a result the wines are made with extremely low doses of sulphites.
In the afternoon the old Etruscan city of Volterra was on our list. We followed many small countryside roads and passed by beautiful landscapes. In Montaione we stopped at the Piazza Cavour to enjoy the stunning view over the rolling country.
Just few kilometres further is the famous monastry San Vivaldo. The monastry and its Holy Mount is situated amongst the graceful and gentle hills of the Tuscan countryside at 450 meters above the sea level. The origins of San Vivaldo are dated back to the 14th century, when the blessed Vivaldo - a civil Franciscan tertiary born in San Gimignano - choose the area to do a life of fast and penance for "the love for Jesus Christ". Today is one of the most important religious places of Italy, and it has been recognized as national monument. Since food for the mind is not everything the monastry has also a recommended restaurant and it is said that you can get the best honey in Tuskany here.
The 21 chapels of the Holy Mount of San Vivaldo are dated back to the 16th century and still preserve at their internal statuary groups in terracotta that represent different episode of life and passion of Jesus Christ.
A short drive from San Vivaldo is the city of Volterra. A walled town with medieval and Renaissance buildings, a Roman theater, and Etruscan sites. It's one of Tuscany's most evocative hill towns . As you approach the town through bleak, rugged terrain, you can see that not all Tuscan hill towns rise above rolling green fields. Volterra stands mightily over a stunning series of gullied hills and valleys formed by erosion that has slowly eaten away at the foundation of the town … now considerably smaller than it was during its Etruscan glory days 25 centuries ago. The town began as the northernmost city of the 12 that made up the Etruscan League, and excavations in the 18th century revealed a bounty of relics, which are on exhibit at the impressively overstocked Museo Etrusco Guarnacci. The Romans and later the Florentines laid siege to the town to secure its supply of minerals and stones, particularly alabaster, which is still worked into handicrafts on sale in many of the shops around town.
On our way back from Volterra to Tenuta di Sticciano we passed the famous city of San Gimignano. The soaring medieval towers silhouetted against the sky is one of the most iconic pictures from Tuscany. Its tall walls and narrow streets are typical of Tuscan hill towns, but it's the medieval "skyscrapers" that set the town apart from its neighbors. Today 14 towers remain, but at the height of the Guelph–Ghibelline conflict there was a forest of more than 70, and it was possible to cross the town by rooftop rather than by road. The towers were built partly for defensive purposes and partly for bolstering the egos of their owners, who competed with deadly seriousness to build the highest tower in town.
We didn´t manage to go inside San Gimignano. It was already early evening when we arrived here and our table in the Restraurant C` Era una Volta was waiting … a marvellous place for authentic tuscan food. Missing San Gimignano was well compensated by a delicious Bistecca Fiorentina and a fine bottle of wine.
to be continued ... check my Travelogues
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