Field Studies: AKA Class Field Trips to Beautiful Tuscan Cities!Siena, Fall 2011

On 12 October, IES brought us to San Gimignano to see one the best (if not the best) example of a medieval city in Europe. San Gimignano is known for its towers that have survived the test of time and the imperialist Medici. A short history lesson; the Medici cut down most, if not all towers, when they conquered a city. Hence why Siena only has one tower. Anyways, we toured the city, climbed the tallest tower, and then, take a deep breath, ATE AT THE WORLD’S GREATEST GELATERIA! I really don’t think I need to explain the pure awesomeness (yes, I just made up that word) that was that cup of gelato. [caption id="attachment_31390" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="A view of some of the towers at San Gimignano."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31385" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="A group of locals hanging out in the main Piazza."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31386" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="For some reason, I think the artist is doing a poor job drawing this girl. "][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31387" align="alignnone" width="198" caption="A view of the countryside surrounding San Gimignano from the top of the tallest tower."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31388" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Shoes and a dog looking at said shoes. "][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31389" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Best.Gelato.In.The.World."][/caption] On 19 October, our IES program went on its second field study to Pienza. We took a bus through the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. Val D’Orcia is actually a UNESCO World Heritage site for it’s beautiful landscape.  It’s also home to the most famous Italian wine, Brunello di Montalcino. I hope I’ll be able to go back to this area at some point and take some photos that weren’t shot from a moving bus…..and you know, go on a wine tour. [caption id="attachment_31395" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Bellisima Val D'Orcia!"][/caption] Okay, time for a short history lesson. Pienza is a small city that is known for being the best example of a Renaissance (Rinascimento in Italian) city in Italy. Pope Pius II (Enea Silvio Piccolomini) essentially built this city with the extra cash he had laying around Saint Peter’s Basilica and named it after himself and the city he was born in, Siena. We didn’t have too much time to spend in the city so we visited the Pope’s summer hang out spot, Palazzo Piccolomini, and the Duomo that’s right next to it. [caption id="attachment_31391" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="A view of Palazzo Piccolomini and the Duomo."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31392" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Pope Pius II got to see this every morning he woke up."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31394" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Pope Pius II's personal porch."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_31393" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Il giardino (garden) at the Palazzo Piccolomini."][/caption] After visiting the aforementioned places we had about 20 minutes of free time and we all made a mad dash for the closest formaggi (cheese) shops. Pienza is considered to have the best pecorino cheese in Italy. The cheese I bought was so good!  
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  1. Loved the pics!!! (and writting)

  2. Matt, I love the photography as usual. Hope you are having a pleasant time even though the political situation there is precarious. i think you already got to Rome, but if you go again, be sure to see the PANTHEON. i know there are a lot of wonderful Roman ruins, but this building is intact and has been standing as an engineering marvel for centuries. It is awesome to stand in a space that is, in its essentials, the same as when the emperors were in it. The dome was the largest dome in the world for centuries. snow today is coviering everything here suddenly.

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