private tours and transfers all around Tuscany, Florence, Siena, Chianti.
SAN GIMIGNANO , a bit of history
The architecture of San Gimignano makes this small city, so concentrated and noble, unique with the geometric pattern of the towers rising above the town. It was already known in Etruscan and Roman times. During the Middie Ages its importance grew thanks to the presence of the Via Francigena, the most important route at the time which connected Italy to all of Europe. San Gimignano almost always sided with Florence, but was unable to expand its power or its boundaries further because geographically it was inhibited by nearby Florence and Siena. The two urban spaces with the greatest wealth, artistically speaking, are the Piazza della Cisterna and the Piazza Duomo. The former takes its name from the 13th century cistern set almost in the center of the square. All around is a series of medieval buildings including, on the south, the Palazzo Tortolini Treccani (14th cent.) with two tiers of two light windows, the Casa Salvestrini and the Casa Razzi (13th cent.); on the west side, the twin Guelph
A City of Uncertain Origins
Nobody knows whether it was the Etruscans, the Gauls or the Romans who founded the original town. Legend has made up for the lack of sure historical fact and maintans that Siena was founded in the early days of the Roman era (8C BC) by Senius, son of Remus; this would explain the presence on the Sienese emblem of the twins, Romulus and Remu, being suckled by the She-wolf. One fact, however, is certain. The site now occupied by the city was a small town in the days of the Republic of Rome and Caesar Augustus repopulated it (1C BC) by setting up a Roman colony here under the name of Sena Julia. In the 12C Siena became an independent repubIic. Having prospered through lts merchants, who were famous throughout Europe, and through Its bankers, It became a threat to neighboring Fiorence. At the same time political rivalry was rife between the two cities, Siena being a supporter of the Ghibelline faction while Florence supported the Guelfs. Until the 15C the history of the two cities, which had little in common, was marked by alternating success and failure. In 1230 the Fiorentines besieged Siena and catapulted manure and donkeys over the town walls. In 1258 Siena breached a treaty it had
signed with Fiorence and opened its gates to Ghibelline exiles. The most memorabie episode in this long struggie took place on 4 September 1260 on a small hill, a dozen or more miles to the east of the city, called Montaperti, where the Ghibellines of Siena defeated the Guelfs of Fiorence. This period of unrest-from the middie of the 13C to the middie of the 14C-was nevertheless the heyday of Siena. It was then that the most prestig bus public buildings were erected together with most of its palaces and patrician mansions. The great plague which ravaged the Western world between 1348 and 1350 reduced the city's population by one-third. in the early years of the 15C internal struggles finally took the city into decline. Although at first Siena accepted the peace-keeping role of Emperor Charles V and celebrated his arrivai in the city in April 1536, the city then rebelied against his authority and placed itself under the protection of the King of France, Henry Il. The town was besieged by imperial troops and defended by Blaise de Montluc, a French general from Gascony. Even its women joined in the heroic resistance. Bread and wine were in short supply, but the women organized veritable feasts. The city was bled white by the siege, which lasted from early in 1554 to April 1555. Four years later Siena was annexed to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany governed by Cosimo I of Florence.
CASTELLINA in Chianti
All over the world the Chianti is appreciated for its unique landscape and for its historical, cultural and artistic ereasures. It happens. however, to those who live here or in its environs to know it superficially, And here comes the historical guide of Chianti and surroundings entitled “Chianti e dintorni. Territorio, storia e viaggi” within the project “Cento Itinerari Più Uno” the Ente Cassa di Risparmio has promoted for the young Tuscans. The book, edited by Francesco Prontera, Leonardo Rombai and Renato Stoppani, aims at redìscovering the roots of the past and inspiring new ideas and proposals to enhance this region. Divided into four chapters, it starts with a geographical and historical clarification of the area, introducing its cultural and economical heritage, tourisrn and historical personages who lived here. Then there is the chapter about the famous Tabula Peutingeriana (Peutinger table), parchment describing the world as it was known in the period of the Romans. The third one is dedicated to the history of Chianti through the medieval courts, religious buildings. mills, hospitals, presbvteries and sanctuaries. The last chapter lists ten possible routes along the ancient roads winding around the roads between Florence and Sìena and those between Higher
Valdarno and Chianti. The tourist routes suggested hìghlight the changes happened in the course of time, from the first one which goes over the journey the Grand Duke Peter Leopold, good connoisseur of his domain, made in 1773. The book, edited in Italian with colour photos, reproductions of ancient documents and unusual strip cartoon drawings, has also a glossary and a precious index of places. It is a useful and original tool to teach civics, history geography, and is intended to regional preservation and knowledge.