“Visiting Tuscan villages is a never-ending itinerary, there’s just so much to choose from. How relaxing to drive along the empty country lanes, dotted with wonderful houses, until, after a curve, we notice a new village, so we are curious to discover it together and find a romantic corner where we can have a kiss: after all, we’re on our honeymoon!”
We glimpse the tops of the famous towers of San Gimignano, called the Manhattan of the Middle Ages because it boasted seventy-two towers in its golden period, now reduced to sixteen. While we approach the hill on which it rises, we feel that we can’t wait for visiting the Medieval citadel, enclosed in majestic walls.
Are we sure we were not suddenly catapulted into Middle Ages without knowing? San Gimignano makes us forget the present and invites us to walk through its cobblestone streets, and we let the lively atmosphere of the village overwhelm us while arriving at Piazza del Duomo.
The austere Romanic facade of Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the city’s main cathedral, doesn’t prepare us to the marvels of the interiors. Inside the church and the Cappella di Santa Fina, Jacopo dalla Quercia, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Taddeo di Bartolo and many more artists show us the enchanting result of their unique talent.
We are still not ready to finish our immersion in the art, and so we enter the Palazzo del Popolo, that hosts the Civic Museum. Passed the staircase, we walk through the Sala di Dante, who lived in the city in 1300, and we visit the pinacoteca, rich in works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli e Filippino Lippi. From the Adunanze Segrete hall a stairway starts, allowing to enjoy a breathtaking view on the rooftops from up the Torre Grossa.
We finally arrive on the hilltop, in Piazza della Cisterna, San Gimignano’s commercial soul, named after the octagonal well in its centre. Along the way, we stop at almost every shop, enthusiastic. We smell the spices and buy some saffron, cultivated in the zone for over a thousand years. Audrey pulls my sleeve because she saw that a grocery store offers tastes of cold cuts and cheese from a chopping board. Perfumes and flavors of Tuscany keep on enrapturing us.
The day after, Volterra awaits us, the “mother”, for its antiquity, of the Tuscan villages. The thirteen-century walls, that lends the city the appearance of severe fortress, are actually the sign of the peak of Volterra’s expansion. We stroll through the streets, still feeling part of history, and our eyes are entranced by the Incrociate, the complexes of towers. In Piazza dei Priori, we take each other pictures with Palazzo dei Priori, symbol of Volterra’s power during Middle Ages.
However, what strikes us more is the fact that the village preserves the memory of its ancient origin, testified by the close Villanovian necropolis and the following Roman theater, of great suggestion.
Essential to Volterra’s history, its Etruscan period, during which it was one of the main city-states of the confederation. Indeed we notice the Etruscan proofs in the Porta dell’Arco and in the Porta Diana, in the Acropolis and in the walls themselves. In order to discover more about Etruscans, pushed by the enchanted atmosphere of the village, we decide to visit the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum. Observing their matrimonial tombs, and the Urn of the Spouses in particular, we realize that love beyond death, beyond everything, as we promised each other, can truly exist.
“Recounting to each other at the dinner table what we’d seen and done over the past few days, going from village to village, from one part of the countryside to the other, I thought back to the spouses depicted in their old age: they still have inside them the joy of a life shared together.”
For a further taste of romantic Tuscany, Love me in Tuscany.
The complete guide to the perfect love trip is Love me in Tuscany.