Secrets of…medieval Italy

Posted by admin on February 26, 2013

Italy’s landscape and architecture stands testament to bygone days, and not just the widely celebrated time of the Renaissance. Italy was a powerful country in medieval times and much from those days is still intact near Florence and Tuscany, hinting at the remnants of secrets left from the middle ages.

Our small group San Gimignano & Siena Tuscany Florence tour is the perfect Italian vacation destination for anyone enchanted by the rich history of that pivotal time in history.

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A maximum of eight people will enjoy a wonderful guided day trip exploring medieval hill towns in the breathtaking Tuscan countryside. Our expert driver-guide will lead you through charming towns, showing you the elements that date back to medieval times and sharing stories and historical facts.

Travellers will learn how even after the decline of the Roman Empire, Italy was important in the world theatre because of its desirable geographic position. Medieval Italy saw the development and growth of some of the country’s most internationally renowned cities, such as Venice, which became extremely important to trade.

The rise of the Catholic Church and the power held by the Holy See were important aspects of politics domestically and internationally. The church was instrumental in education, being the place for learning as well as preserving classical culture. Monastic orders grew in numbers and were essential economically.

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While most people associate Italy with the masters of Renaissance art, it was here during medieval times that artists began to rebel against Byzantine conventions for composition and their restrictive idea that all art should be religious. Artists began to create landscapes, still life paintings, and portraits of people in addition to Biblical scenes. It was during this time, by 1321, that Dante Alighieri finished writing his La Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) – considered one of the most important works in world literature.

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While we envision peasants living in humble homes cobbled out of the earth around them, medieval Italy was being transformed. Construction began in larger cities like Tuscany—large civic buildings and cathedrals that reached to the heavens, along with the first Italian university in Bologna. During this exciting day trip, travellers will get to visit incredible medieval hill towns, including: 

Siena

An incredible Tuscan gem, Siena has done such a good job of preserving its medieval cityscape that its city centre was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). It is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations, with museums, villas, and an unbelievable shell-shaped town square called the Piazza del Campo noted for its impressive tower called Torre del Mangia. It is here that visitors come to watch the famous Palio horse race held annually in summer.

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San Gimignano

While this medieval hill town is small, it offers an unforgettably impressive skyline with its well preserved tower houses. The walled town is built on a hilltop and these incredible examples of medieval architecture show examples of Romanesque and Gothic styles. These fortified structures belie the time of conflict here between families, who sought ways to defend themselves during the Guelph-Ghibelline conflict and struggled to survive the Black Plague. There are churches with frescos dating back to the middle ages here in the “Town of Fine Towers,” the centre of which is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

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Monteriggioni

Perched atop a low-lying hill sits the walled town of Monteriggioni, which has stood sentinel over the area since about 1213 and was mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy. More remote than the other villages, Monteriggioni was built by the Sienese to defend their territory against the efforts of Florence to expand. Here you will see thick walls that have stood the test of attacking armies and time, still graced by 14 impressive square towers. There are narrow alleyways to explore as well as the charming main square, the Piazza Roma, and its Romanesque church.

Although the small group San Gimignano & Siena tour only lasts eight hours, it will bring you back to beautiful Florence with memories to last a lifetime.

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