Traveling through Tuscany

August 22nd, 2008 by | Country: Italy | No Comments »

Tuscany is a magnificent region.  There are lots of very rounded hills, beautiful cypress trees, and the buildings are just charming as they can be.

We were heading for a big day tour to three cities in the Tuscany region – Montalcino, Pienza, and Siena.

Montalcino is a gorgeous little village that is known for its wine and cheeses.  The countryside surrounding the village reminded me of the images that I’ve seen in movies of Napa Vally in California.  There are rows and rows of plants.  The hills are lushly green.  Jodi, Luca, Jordan, Sofia, and I had lunch inside a castle where we drank Brunello and ate pecorino cheese with honey.

We stopped in Pienza, a beautiful town where I made a pit stop last summer with my travel group for ten minutes just to see the architectural design of the town.  With a great surprise, I got to go back to this town and got to really spend some time there to photograph and to shop.  It’s a very small and an ideal Renaissance town in the Tuscany region and between Florence and Siena. There are magnificent massive green hills surrounding this town, a typical feature of the Tuscany region.  There are lots of boutiques where we can purchase interesting goods such as ceramics, paintings, jewelry, clothes, and even food like cheese!

Here is a historical background Pienza that I wrote last summer:

Pope Pius II, who was born in this town and is considered one of the most educated pope of all the popes, wanted this entire village remodeled as a typical Renaissance town. Bernardo Rosselino who was probably inspired by Alberti Batitsa, designed many of the buildings such as the cathedral, bishop’s palace, a new town hall, and a palace for the Pope.

“This city is definitely on my list to visit when I come back to Italy one day. I know it seems insane that we visited this city for only one hour, but the reason we visited was to see the Siena Cathedral so that we, the art historians, could understand why the Florence Cathedral was built.”

I wrote this message last year when I visited Siena for just less than an hour.  I was so damned disappointed as I really wanted to soak in this gorgeous medieval city.  Well…well… I got to come back only one year later!  Unbelievable!  We went to Siena after our visit in Montalcino and Pienza.  We browsed through the shops, relaxed in the piazza by the City Hall and watched the sky go from bright blue to black and lights go on.  Siena is certainly a city of lights at night.

Here’s a little historical background about Siena that I wrote last summer:

During the late medieval period, also called proto-renaissance, in 14th century, this one particular city in Italy was once the most powerful city in the world. They built the very first city hall in Europe, Palazzo Pubblico. Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s fresco painting of “Good and Bad Government” is in this city hall. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to see this painting that I have studied in art history because we had only one hour to see the whole city! This city also had a great pride in their enormous and the most majestic cathedral, the Siena Cathedral, that once made Florence felt powerless. This cathedral was incomparable to all the other cathedrals that I have seen. This cathedral looked like a candy palace. It was entirely made of marble in all sorts of colors – green, white, and pink. The engaged columns were twisted and looked like twisted lollipops. The corinthian design on the engaged columns made the façade more magnificent because of the designs’ outrageous details. There were beautiful carved statues on the façade. There was a big huge round mirror on the top of the façade, and it was reflecting the clouds from the sky, and also magnificent paintings on the pediments. It was even more majestic than the Florence Cathedral in my personal opinion, and I know that does not sound good since the Florence Cathedral was meant to outdo the Siena Cathedral. Back in the 14th century, when the Siena Cathedral was built, Florence felt powerless, and therefore that was the reason that the Florence Cathedral was built.

Siena also very much reminded me of Bayonne, France, a little town where I visited twice, because of the similar architecture designs. The buildings were tall, but not too tall. They were only about six stories high. They were built literally next too each other. There was not even a space between each building. Basically, each building looked like they were glued to each other! The windows on the buildings were very elongated and had wooden shutters like the buildings in Bayonne. The buildings had similar colors – beige, white cream, green, and yellow. There was an obvious reason that both of these towns look similar! They’re both originated from Medieval period! Also, both cities had a large fence made of stones surrounding them! Even though the medieval period is my least favorite period because of the great emphasis on the religion and the less emphasis on the education and philosophy, the architecture during that period were magnificent.

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