Friday, January 20, 2012

San Gimignano skyline

I made this oil painting of the enigmatic and gorgeous San Gimignano skyline. What are all those towers about, you ask? Basically it was the conspicuous consumption of the day—people keeping up with the Joneses. They were just showing off their wealth and power by outdoing each other with these tall towers, though none were permitted to be built taller than the City Hall tower. This walled medieval Tuscan hill town has an interesting history, which you can read about here and you can also see some good photos of the town here.  During the Renaissance it was a stopover point for Catholic pilgrims traveling to the Vatican. Those towers must have been like New York City skyscrapers back then, seen from miles and miles away. Once upon a time there were 72 of these towering golden rectangles, but now only 13 remain.

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We've been to San G three times now—the first time was in 1993 when we were on our honeymoon. The word is out on this charming little hilltop town with its myriad towers and it attracts serious crowds of people today, but back then it was a sleepy town with much fewer tour buses. These days cars are not allowed to drive up into the town, but that is precisely what we did back in 1993. Yup, we drove into the center of town and found a lovely hotel with a room on the second floor that overlooked the Piazza della Cisterna (the main square with the water well). The place was the Hotel Leon Bianco, and it's still running today. (See photos below!) Their outside cafe was just below our window and in the morning we awoke to the sound of clanking dishes and silverware and the heavenly aroma of strong Italian coffee. Ahh, memories!

photo from the Hotel Leon Bianco website

Me looking out our window at Hotel Leon Bianco in San Gimignano in 1993

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