Italy
    Hill Towns of Umbria and Tuscany
architecture    art    food and wine    gardens and parks    history   

Undulating vineyards and olive groves. Red-tiled roofs and della Robbian blue skies. Medieval towers and richly ornamented cathedrals. The hill towns of Italy have much to offer thoughtful travelers.

It seems that beyond every hazy hillside, there's another jewel nestled inside ancient city walls. Each with art, architecture, food, and wine that are, inconceivably, better than the last.

Start in Orvieto, 75 miles ? and several light years ? from Rome. Perched atop a massive plateau of volcanic rock, this Etruscan settlement is one of the most spectacularly situated towns in Umbria. The Cathedral there is the creation of 33 architects, 152 sculptors, 68 painters, and 90 mosaic artists ? among them Fra Angelico and Luca Signorelli.

Explore the Romanesque and medieval architecture of Spoleto, the home of the renowned Festival of Two Worlds. Then visit the magnificent churches of Assisi with frescoes by Giotto, Cimabue, Lorenzetti, and Simone Martini ? names that quicken the pulse of any art historian.

For many travelers, Siena is Italy's most captivating town. Frozen in the Middle Ages, it is Italy's best-preserved Gothic city. The winding maze of streets inside the city walls open onto lovely piazzas. And the art of the Sienese School is absolutely breathtaking.

Spend a day in the vineyards of the Chianti Classico district, tasting big reds and touring 14th-century castles and luxurious villas. Then head for San Gimignano. One of Tuscany's most fascinating ? and picturesque ? towns, San Gimignano is noted for the 14 medieval towers that define its dramatic skyline. End your sojourn in Lucca, where Roman ruins, Pisan-Romanesque churches, and Renaissance villas are enclosed by 16th-century walls. You'll also have the time to visit Pisa, if you'd like.

San Gimignano
San Gimignano

Monteriggioni
Monteriggioni

Siena
Siena


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