In Villa Torricella you are at about an hour from Siena, in Poggio a Vento you are halfway between Florence and Siena. So take a day to visit Siena and San Gimignano, beautiful medieval towns. You reach Siena taking the highway Siena-Firenze, up to Siena Nord. Once in Siena, you can park near the Fortess of Santa Barbara (not on Wednesday because of the weekly market) near the church of San Domenico or go to the parking Il Campo on the southern side of the city near the church of Sant’Agostino.
Siena, the city of the “Palio”
Siena will surprise you with its famous Piazza del Campo, the shell shaped square, marking the heart of the city and dominated by the façade of the Palazzo Pubblico. The palace, built in red bricks and completed with marble decorations, is dating back to the end of the 13th century, when Siena was one of the wealthiest and most powerful towns in Tuscany. Its famous tower, the Torre del Mangia, was added in 1341.
Another must in Siena is the visit of the Cathedral: the Sienese started building it already in the 12th century, but the magnificent monument we see now was completed during the next century. The façade, in white marble and crowded with statues, was designed by the famous Sienese sculptor Giovanni Pisano, while inside all architectural elements are covered with a striped motif in white and black marble.
Strolling around the city, walking up and down its medieval alleys, you will feel like living in the Middle Ages. And if you are staying in one of our villas at the beginning of July or around mid August, don’t forget that you can pretend to be a real Sienese, taking part to the most spectacular event organized in town since the Middle Ages: the Palio, the world wide well known horse race taking place on July 2nd and on August 16th.
San Gimignano, the city of the towers
To get to San Gimignano from Poggio a Vento, on the highway Siena-Firenze direction Siena take the exit Poggibonsi Nord and then follow the signs to San Gimignano. The centre of the city is restricted area, but you can park near the Porta San Matteo (parking n.2) or Porta san Giovanni (parking n.3) and walk into the historical centre.
The fortune of San Gimignano is due to it strategic position along the via Francigena, the road connecting France and Spain to Rome. The wealthy and powerful families of the city built towers as a symbol of power and of the original seventy two towers, fourteen still stand to witness San Gimignano’s glorious past. Leave your car outside the town walls and walk to the piazza della Cisterna: the square is surrounded by medieval houses and dominated by the twin towers of the Ardinghelli family.
The piazza del Duomo is the religious heart of the city: on top of a monumental stairway the façade of the Collegiata dominates the view. The interior is decorated with frescoes of Sienese gothic painters: admire here the chapel dedicated to Santa Fina, a masterpiece of Florentine Renaissance artists, the architects and sculptor Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano and the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio.
The ancient streets of San Gimignano are also the best place to shop if you are looking for Tuscan pottery, embroidery, and of course wine and olive oil!!