Wherever you arrive from, you will see the 13 towers that still rise today on the hilltop. In the XIV century there were 72 of them. Built by the richest families of the city, they were a symbol of wealth and power and each family would strive to build the highest and most beautiful one. San Gimignano had a particularly fast development in the late Middle Ages, when it was crossed by the branch of the Via Francigena that ran through the hills and thus become an important resting place for the numerous wayfarers. The atmosphere of San Gimignano is that of a place out of time, where the silence that reigns among the stone and brick buildings gives one a pleasant sensation of peace and quiet. But the towers are not the only attraction of San Gimignano.
Monteriggioni is an impressive medieval castle, built by the people of Siena to defend the city from the Florentine armies. In the Divine Comedy, Dante mentions the famous "cerchia tonda" (round fortress) with its 14 towers, which he compares to giants.
Volterra rises on top of a solitary hill, from which the view stretches over a territory that goes from the Apennines to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The city is proud of its Etruscan heritage, testified by its city walls and the famous Porta dell'Arco Etrusco (Gate of the Etruscan Arch). In the Middle Ages it fought for many years to maintain its independence from Florence. Many churches, among which the Cathedral, and many palazzos, the foremost being the Palazzo dei Priori, are majestic witnesses of this period. Also sightworthy, just out of the city, is the spectacular erosive phenomenon of the "Balze".
In the Middle Ages the Abbey of San Galgano was one of the richest and mightiest Cistercian abbeys in Italy. The wonderful and impressive ruins of the church, partially restored, are all that have reached our days, along with some sections of its monastery. Very beautiful is also the little church of Monte Siepi, on a hill nearby.
Castellina in Chianti
Castellina in Chianti is the hometown of Chianti wine. Here the Consorzio del Chianti Classico was founded in 1924 and in 1984 it was awarded the quality mark D.O.C.G. The historic centre dates back to the Middle Ages and the Via delle Volte, a covered street along the old city walls, still bears testimony to this heritage.