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San Gimignano 1300

By | Blog

Visit San Gimignano and take the opportunity to visit the museum of San Gimignano 1300. In this museum you can admire a large and detailed miniature reconstruction of medieval San Gimignano, as it appeared at the time of its maximum splendor.

From the center of San Gimignano we walk along Via San Giovanni: the entrance to this private exhibition does not have an immediately visible sign: it is an open door with a vertical poster that invites for free admission.

This is how San Gimignano would have looked, around 1300 to a wayfarer who had spotted it from a surrounding hill. The city, at the height of its development with all its 72 towers (even if it was called "city of 100 towers" or "city with beautiful towers"), was impressive and conveyed a sense of strength and independence: a reference point for the Tuscany of that time.

Being located along the Via Francigena had allowed it to prosper and become an important commercial center, growing to count 12,000 inhabitants (today there are 3,000).

This miniature was made entirely of ceramic decorated with cold, natural pigments, using more than 1 ton of clays from the nearby Montelupo quarries.

It required intense technical, historical and architectural research and 20,000 hours of work.

A passage for the Via Francigena

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The structure is an old farmhouse used as a horse changing station near the Via Francigena between San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.

This stop is considered one of the most beautiful of the Via Francigena: it starts from San Gimignano, the Manhattan of the Middle Ages for its towers, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and arrives as far as Monteriggioni. But we follow it to Badia a Conèo and from here we go to Colle Val d’Elsa, the city divided into two, Colle Alta and Colle Bassa, which gave birth to Arnolfo di Cambio.

Itinerary: go out from Porta San Giovanni in San Gimignano and after a short stretch on Via dei Fossi go down to the left for some steps that lead to Via Vecchia, turn left again into Via Baccanella and get to a large roundabout. You cross and start to follow a stretch of asphalt in the direction of Santa Lucia.

After about 2 km, after passing the sports field, we find on the right the detour that leads into the dirt road: from here on the route is perfectly marked with the trail signs of the Francigena.
You have to make three fords: Borro degli Imbotroni, Botro dei Bagni and torrent Foci, quite easy, but in case of heavy rains in the previous days it is better to take plastic bags to wrap your feet. Or you take off your boots. Just before reaching the asphalted road to Campiglia, near an old biogas plant, turn right to see the beautiful “Blue Lagoon”, as the Colligiani call it. There are two waterfalls, the first of which originates from the gora of the old mill (ruins still visible), which create a small lagoon hidden among the trees, between the rocks dug by the power of water. We return to the path and continue to the beautiful Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta in Conèo, which unfortunately is almost always closed. However, it deserves to be seen even from the outside, with its beautiful and severe
Romanesque forms.

From here we go back on the asphalt road, we walk for about 500 meters and we turn left on the dirt road that leads us to Campiglia. In the square turn left and then immediately right, continue for about 1.5 km and then turn right until you reach the cemetery of Colle. Here we arrive and we take the main asphalt road towards Le Grazie, and always following this we arrive at Porta Nova. You could also avoid the asphalt, but the ride is tortuous and dispersive.

Useful information: the official website of the Via Francigena with this stop, the official website of the Pro Loco of San Gimignano, and that of Colle Val d’Elsa.

On Google Maps you can see the whole track on satellite map and below you can download the paper map on an OSM basis and the GPS track for the navigator.

Walking around the Sentierelsa river park

By | Blog

The route of this itinerary, called Sentierelsa, begins in Gracciano, south of the town of Colle di Val d’Elsa, from the bridge of San Marziale and runs alongside the river bed for 2 km until you get to the town of San Giorgio. The entrance is on the left, away from Colle di Val d’Elsa, of the San Marziale bridge.

Here you will find immediately, also visible from the pedestrian walkway of the bridge itself, the Steccaia and the Callone Reale, two important works of hydraulic engineering, of great importance for the city as they were used in the Middle Ages to channel part of the water from the Elsa river. The water could thus be used for irrigation, as a driving force first for the mills, then for the paper mills and the ironworks and for different industrial uses.

In particular, La Steccaia is used to retain and divert the water of the Elsa river, thanks to a system of mobile planks to be inserted in blocks of stone to form a barrier to the free flow of water, while the Callone Reale is a gate that regulates the amount of water flowing into the canal that flows towards the city and is called gora.

After 200 meters we find the Diborrato waterfall, in the past a bathing place for the colligiani. For the residents this place is known as the Tonfo del Carrarmato: the river makes a jump of about 15 meters. At its feet, in the Second World War, legend has it that a tank has fallen and that, due to the depth of the river at that point, it has never been possible to recover it. Right here the young colligiani of the ’30s and ’40s of the last century used to demonstrate their courage by diving from above into the blue water below.

Going down the path, located under the waterfall, we find the Bear Caves, so called because they have a vague resemblance to the figure of a bear.

The path leaves the river for a distance of 100 meters, then rejoins with this in the area where there is a huge flat boulder. Then we arrive at the Gore Rotte, where there is another entrance to the park, with some small bridges and walkways in Tibetan style.

The route continues for about 1 km to reach the town of San Giorgio where a crossing of the river was built. Below this area are the Conchina, the Masso Bianco, the Nicchia and the Spianata dei Falchi, called in other words as “sea of ​​Colle”.