Sovigliana - San Miniato - Sovigliana - Touring Tuscany - CycleBlaze

May 2, 2009

Sovigliana - San Miniato - Sovigliana

From Sovigliana where we are staying for two nights, we have planned a loop to San Miniato, a well preserved medieval town built on three hilltops overlooking the Arno Valley. We start off with a stop for breakfast at the very best cafe so far. The cappuccino is perfect and we are sorely tempted to try all the different kinds of breakfast pastries.

First we take a short detour to Pontorme on the eastern outskirts of Empoli in quest of another Medici villa which I believe to be here. Unfortunately I didn't note the name of the villa but trust we will see a sign pointing the way. This is not the case and we leave Pontorme - mission unaccomplished.

At home I find all the informtion I needed and see we were looking for Villa dell'Ambrogiana, a huge villa used by the Medici as a hunting lodge, located just a bit farther on. The villa, used as a psychiatric prison for many years, is now restored and the park is open to the public. I'm sorry to have missed it.

At home I decorated my map with numbers showing the places we wanted to visit, but I forgot to bring the key along and could no longer remember what number 20 was supposed to be - Ambrogiana.
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Charmaine RuppoltGood idea to mark on the map places you want to see. :)
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3 months ago

The ride to San Miniato is flat until you reach the base of the hill, then steep, nothing in between. We are rewarded for our effort with lovely views of the countryside and then San Miniato. In medieval times, San Miniato was on the main route between northern Europe and Rome, the via Francigena, as well as the Florence-Pisa road and the Lucca-Sienna road. So, over the centuries San Miniato was exposed to a constant flow of armies, traders and other travelers. Today we find one of the best preserved medieval towns in Tuscany.

View on the way up to San Miniato
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Chiesa San Francesco: Romanesque facade from the 13th century. Saint Francis of Assisi, on his way home from Pisa, travelled to San Miniato and founded the Convento San Francesco
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San Miniato's cathedral, a Romanesque building, has been remodelled several times and exhibits Gothic and some Renaissance arcchitectural elements. The façade incorporates a number of colorful majolica bowls.
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The Matilde Tower, the cathedral's campanile, featuring an asymmetrical clock
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View from the cathedral's square or Prato del Duomo
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The "Il Frederico" Tower, built in the 13th century. It was destroyed by the Nazis to prevent the Allies from using it as a gun sighting tower, but was reconstructed in 1958.
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Stairs leading from the Piazza Duomo to the Piazza della Repubblica
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Il Seminario on the Piazza della Repubblica
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The road we chose in the morning is the road we will take tomorrow on our way to San Gimignano. The traffic didn't seem to be too bad and tomorrow is Sunday which means there will be even less traffic. On the ride back to our hotel we take a quieter country road.

Today's ride: 35 km (22 miles)
Total: 320 km (199 miles)

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