City of Towers

photo gallery

In addition to taking care of all lodging, eating and travel arrangements, Elderhostel contracts with Trinity College to provide an intensive and thoughtfully designed educational program. The second of Rocky’s Thursday lectures was an introduction to the fresco cycle in the Collegiate Church of St. Mary of the Assumption in San Gimignano displaying some remarkably expressive portraits of Judas and the other tormentors of Jesus painted by a shady figure named Barna. Friday morning we took a forty minute busride through the misty Tuscan countryside to this fully preserved walled medieval hilltop town, marked by the presence of fourteen stone towers that served as defensive retreats in feudal feuds between rival families and also as competitive displays of wealth”mine is taller than yours. The crowds of tourists, which I overheard one person say reminded them of Mont San Michel in Normandy, hardly distracted from the familiar beauty of the countryside. I had seen it before in the background of many Renaissance paintings. The church was opened especially for our tour, but we were given time only to view the Barna cycle and a small chapel dedicated to Santa Serafina vividly painted by Ghirlandaio. Picture taking was prohibited here as in most churches, and the web images I’ve linked to usually dont do justice to color and detail. Before we left I got to ascend the city hall tower and enjoy panoramic views of the town and countryside.

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