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Tuscany June 28, 2006

Livorno (Florence) - Tuscan Countyside, San Gimignano & Volterra

Discover rural Tuscany on an excursion to two medieval walled towns. Sample the local cuisine and shop for fine wines, statues and ceramics.

San Gimignano - Fortified walls and watchtowers were hallmarks of power and prosperity in the Middle Ages. Thirteen of the town’s original 76 towers remain. Approximately 1 1/2 hours are allowed to stroll the narrow cobbled streets to take in San Gimignano’s sights, including the triangular Piazza Cisterna. The Piazza del Duomo is the site of the Collegiata, a Romanesque cathedral known for its fine frescoes.

Volterra - A trading center since the days of the Etruscans, Volterra sits on a rocky plateau and is protected by medieval ramparts. Your walking tour takes in the Piazza dei Priori, one of Italy’s most impressive squares, the Piazza San Giovanni, site of the Duomo and Baptistery, and the ruins of an ancient Roman theater that dates back to the 1st century B.C.

Take some time to shop for ceramics and wines during your visit to San Gimignano. Volterra is famous for the production of alabaster articles, and you will find many shops with beautiful alabaster statues and furniture.

Experience the flavor of Tuscany during lunch at a small farmhouse located in a scenic valley.

Drive northeast from Livorno, passing medieval Tuscan hill-towns. The rolling slopes are covered with vineyards and silvery green olive groves, providing lots of wonderful photo opportunities.

The drive to San Gimignano, and the return from Volterra is approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Tour groups are not allowed inside the Duomo during mass services. Entry will be allowed on an individual basis to view the interior quietly and reverently.

Shopping is limited on Sundays.



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