Don’t miss this walled medieval hill town with its famous towers in beautiful Tuscany
San Gimignano in Italy is famous for its tower houses, and here, 54 metres up on top of the tallest one, the Torre Grossa, built in 1311, Tony Page gives you a 360 degree panorama of this famous walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site too and a great place to visit.
“Okay, here we are in a sort of wet San Gimignano and I’m on top of the tallest tower you can find … I’m not sure what the name is, it doesn’t say on the ticket (Ed: it’s called the Torre Grossa)… but I’m looking across at a man who is about to jump. Actually he is one of the nude bronze statues that are stuck on the top and in odd spots all over San Gimignano.
“So here we are, that’s as wide as I can go, it’s pretty wet, so excuse me if the lens gets a bit smeared. Anyway, as you can see, we’re quite high up here. I’m just going to do a sweep round and have a look down into one of the main squares. Deserted now because it’s wet, but it was packed solid not so long ago, and it really is extremely busy with tourists here.”
Tourists Crowds Flee The Rain
“As you can see, there’s not many people in the streets at the moment. I just can’t believe the change actually. A few minutes ago it was totally packed. I’ve just been and done a shot doing what this guy’s doing, creating a panorama which hopefully you’ll be able to see when I put it together in the gallery.
“Now down here – let me just zoom in a little – this is one of the other main streets and squares (Ed: it’s the Piazza Cisterna) and again you can see there’s only one or two solitary souls with umbrellas there. But a few minutes ago, literally 10 minutes ago, it was teeming with people. In fact, I think the secret to San Gimignano is to come and stay here, because in the evening it must quieten down a lot.”
Via San Giovanni, The Main Street Into Town
“Now what we’re seeing here is the main street into town and I’ll zoom in. This is the street you’ll probably walk along when you come into the town. Again there are a few people here, but it was packed solid earlier. I don’t know where all those stallholders are, they seem to be very quick at getting all their goods in. Now there’s the gate (Ed: Porta San Giovanni – the southern gate) that you’ll probably come in at, and I’ll come back so that you can actually see the general route you’ll be taking.
“The countryside’s very beautiful here, as you can see.. sort of a dream Tuscan type of area. Unfortunately I can’t get you the dream light. As you can see in the distance, there is quite a lot of rain about and normally you can see a lot further than this; I certainly hope that when you come you’ll have better weather. I’m actually due back here in a couple of weeks so it’s possible there may be better weather then, in which case you may never see this.”
Big Bells, But Fortunately Silent…
“Up here, rather like in Orvieto, there are bells, but fortunately they don’t seem to ring, after I nearly had heart failure in Orvieto when I climbed to the top and they finally rang just as I stepped out onto the main parapet. I’m not looking forward to it here, these bells are a lot bigger than the ones in Orvieto as you can probably make out.
“Let me just duck down here, it’s sort of an obstacle course, you have to get under here (groan) to come out on the other side and have another go. Okay, sorry about that, nothing like a little bit of adventure. So here again it’s wet, but you’ll see the village is surrounded by quite attractive countryside.
“Oops, I can see there’s a chunk of water on the lens there, sorry about that but there we are. It is getting rather wet here so I think I may just call it a day and retreat back down the 205 steps I believe there are here as opposed to 238 in Orvieto and get down to ground level. See you soon!”