Travel theme: Tradition (under the Tuscan Sun)

Ailsa of  “Where’s my backpack” fame, created a travel challenge: Tradition. I’m a bit late with my post, as the new challenge comes out tomorrow.

She asks us, “What is your interpretation of tradition? If you’d like to join in, create your own post, title it “Travel theme: tradition” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post.”

So, continuing on from my “Florence” post:

From Florence, we drove through avenues of Cypress trees, past olive groves and vineyards reminiscent of the movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” whilst Andrea Bocelli serenaded us with his wonderful voice and Italian songs. Our next stop was to the World Heritage site, the typically Tuscan, Medieval town of San Gimignano. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town. Despite the passing of the centuries, this town has managed to preserve its Medieval architecture and its charm, and today is considered to be one of Tuscany’s greatest treasures. The “city of the beautiful towers,” as it is often called, has been a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990.

The city was built on top of a hill about 300 meters high and enjoys a wonderful view of the entire Elsa Valley that surrounds it. Historical records going back to the 10th century mention that the city is named in honor of Saint Geminianus, a bishop from Modena.

We were able to spend a few hours, basking in the beauty of this ancient town, with its tall stone buildings and narrow streets.

The main square has the town’s 13th century water cistern, in the centre and is surrounded by some of the town’s majestic towers.

Everywhere you look, there is beautiful, traditional medieval architecture.

Whilst in other cities, such as Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying heights which have become its international symbol.

The Punch and Judy show is an Italian tradition, and has roots in the 16th century Italian “Commedia dell’arte.”  The figure of Punch derives from the Neapolitan stock character of Pulcinella which was anglicised to Punchinello.

Another tradition of San Gimignano, is Wild Boar meat. This shop sells it in many forms, such as sausage and salami.

Out on the street, you can get a bread roll filled with slices of this Wild Boar, whilst it watches as you pull out your money. 😉

Another great Italian tradition is of course their delicious gelato, which I may have mentioned before. 😉 Ice cream is a very serious business, and we got to taste the best gelato in the world, made by master ice cream maker, Sergio Dondoli, of the Gelateria located in the central Piazza della Cisterna. Newspaper clippings on the walls of his establishment, in German, English and Italian, not to mention the letters from all over Europe, testify to his popularity. His chocolate ice-cream even won the title of the world’s “best ice-cream of the year.”

I know some of you have seen this before in my “food” post, but I think it bears looking at again.

Three scoops of our choice were included in our package, and I chose Chocolate Grand Marnier, Raspberry & Rosemary, and Creme do Patzi Chocolate Orange. So very yummy!

One place which I didn’t fancy going into, was the ‘Museo Torture’ which has on display all the incredible and terrifying devices and techniques of medieval torture, instruments for the execution of the death penalty, and interesting documents of the Santa Inquisizione, or Holy Inquisition, a medieval church court instituted to seek out and prosecute heretics with horrible torture practices.

All too soon it was time to leave for our hotel, and as we drove away from this town full of traditions, our guide told us that we were going to stop at the roadside for one last look back, as we sipped a very small glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

A lovely end to a perfect day “under the Tuscan sun.”

Next stop Venice, via the Leaning Tower of Pisa.









80 comments on “Travel theme: Tradition (under the Tuscan Sun)

    • Thanks, Rosie. No we didn’t try the wild boar, as we’d already had lunch. Couldn’t resist the gelato though. 🙂 Thanks for the link to your post.

  1. This just popped up on another post. I hadn’t seen it. I’m glad I came by to view it. You have traveled to the best places. I’m very happy you post them here for us to see. I had a nice morning sightseeing. Thanks ….Issy

  2. Your Italy posts are making me want to pack my bags and return NOW! Love the second image of the street, should have been part of your road series, but you couldn’t possibly have added any more 🙂

  3. I loved your photo essay here. Under the Tuscan Sun. I so wish I could go to Italy and live some of these moments, but I have to be patient and wait a little longer for that dream. I especially like those gelato photos…muy awesome. Muy … Hey! Happy Belated Birthday too 🙂 I know you had a great time whatever it is that you ventured to do 🙂

  4. Loved your story, “under the Tuscan Sun.” I recently went to Italy and staying in Tuscany. I loved every second I was there. The porchetta was awesome and had to have gelato every day sometimes twice in a day. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  5. Love that town. I visited some years back. Such a relaxed place. Very nice to see it again through your post. 🙂

  6. Eek, that torture chamber’s kind of freaky, I think I’d give it a miss too! San Gimignano looks stunning, I’ve never been there but I want to go now! That second photo is wonderful, with those great globes of light along the walls and the winding street with the tower in the background. Really lovely post! xx

  7. thanks for: “San Gimignano
    has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying heights
    which have become its international symbol.”

  8. Thanks for sharing the site of San Gimignano – a place I haven’t visited … YET! Glad you found the gelato shop! … and looking forward to the rest of the trip. 🙂

  9. AD those photos are absolutely stunning, I love the architecture and the warm stone walls. Fabulous that this medieval village has survived the centuries. That gelato sounds delicious 🙂

  10. I think you really enjoyed this trip, and I can certainly understand why. Great photos, and like you I would have avoided the torture museum 🙂

  11. No pics of the museum of torture? Okay maybe next time! It’s amazing how a town like that managed to surive through the ages, largely intact – well, you know what I mean!

  12. You are so lucky and blessed to be able to visit such wonderful places… Mommy I want to go with you, pleeeeeaaase… great captures and what an interesting blog…

  13. Great post as usual. I am sure I am correct in assuming the “traditional medieval architecture” refers to be buildings in the background of the third picture and “beautiful” is referring to the lovely lady in the foreground:)

  14. such an effortless tour of San Gimignano thanks to you our perfect guide AD, and yes i shut my eyes as i scrolled past the torture museum!

  15. I loved everything about this…well maybe not the torture devices….can’t get over the
    Incredible architecture and I can’t wait to go to Venice!!

  16. The medieval architecture looks great and lovely traditions going on there. Ice-cream…yummy!

Comments are closed.