Ice cream Champion of the World

San Gimignano Travel Blog

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Our next day trip is to the beautiful hilltop town of San Gimignano. It's nearly time for the grape harvest so we do a circlar walk around the town in the rolling Tuscan countryside. Visible for miles around are the Towers of the Town. It served as an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. So the patrician families who were in control of the town built around 72 tower-houses,some as high as 50m as symbols of their wealth and power. Although only 14 have survived, San Gimignano retains its feudal atmosphere and appearance.

Originally under the jurisdiction of the bishops of Volterra, it became independent in 1199 when it acquired its first podestà.

The free town, known as San Gimignano delle Belle Torri, entered into a long period of prosperity that lasted until 1353, when it fell under the sway of Florence.The town was controlled by two major rival families - the Ardinghelli, Guelph sympathizers, and the Salvucci, who were Ghibellines - and was the scene of incessant conflicts between the two clans.

The town grew around two principal squares, the Piazza della Cisterna and the Piazza del Duomo. The triangular Piazza della Cisterna is ornamented with a lovely well that stands in the centre. The piazza is bordered by tower houses: the twin towers of the Ardinghellis to the west, the tower of the Benuccis, the Casa Rodolfi and the Palazzo Razzi to the south, and the Palazzo dei Cortesi to the north.

After our walk we do what most people seem to do in San Gimignano and head for the ice cream parlour. Sergio Dondolis shop has become famous as a tourist attraction in it's own right. World Champion Ice Cream maker in 2006/2007 they are delicious. I have a double scoop of orange flavour chocolate and vanilla. Taking my ice cream I climb the nearest of the 14 remaining towers and eat my gelato whilst admiring the view.

We have arranged a wine tasting session along with a late lunch,so after wandering the old town and visiting a few of the shops we meet up with the group and and try some of the local vintages. Very nice they are too along with the local produce for lunch. It's a very happy and mellow tour group that makes it back to the farm.

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San Gimignano
photo by: joesu