On Saturday, our group met at the Rome airport and off we went to Tuscany. It is about a three hour ride and we were all glad to arrive at our beautiful home for the next five days, the Villa Montecastello, which is in the area of Monteriggio. The villa dates back nearly 1,000 years and was originally a fortress. It was purchased 20 years ago, repaired and restored, and is now a wonderful property where guests can stay. The owners also operate an organic farm, producing Primo organic olive oil.
Sunday we set off on our first day of touring and drove to the town of San Gimignano which is known as the city of towers. 72 towers were constructed by rival nobles during the 12th and 13th centuries, creating a striking cityscape, although not all of the towers still stand. After walking around the town and enjoying lunch we moved on to a smaller town called Volterra which was a large Etruscan settlement. A guide took us on a short but fascinating walk around the town, educating us on its Etruscan and Roman history as well the beautiful church (duomo) and other architectural elements dating to the 12th century.
After a full day, we headed back to the villa for wine and a wonderful dinner prepared by our hosts. Tomorrow we head off to Pienza and Montepulciano.