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Home | Destinations | Whats New In Tuscany: A Museum and A . . .
 

What's New In Tuscany: A Museum and A Wine School


This article originally appeared in the May 2009 issue of Dream of ItalySam Gimignano's New Museum

Visitors to San Gimignano, the Tuscan town famous for its towers, can now view a historic, miniature version of the walled medieval town at the new museum, San Gimignano 1300. The museum shows what this UNESCO World Heritage Site was like in 1300. While numerous towers in other Italian cities have ben destroyed by time and war, San Gimignano's 14 towers have remained intact.

San Gimignano 1300 is the realization of a vision created by brothers and master ceramic artists, Michelangelo and Raffaello Rubino, who wanted the museum to provide a historical, architectural, and social view of the medieval city. They joined architects and historians to craft a historically accurate recreation of San Gimignano out of clay; with the whole team putting in 20,000 combined hours of labor over a period of two years.

Of the museum's nine exhibits, the highlight is undoubtedly the “City of Beautiful Towers” exhibit, a miniature ceramic version of San Gimignano with over 800 handcrafted structures and 200 figurines. All structures and figurines are handmade on a scale of 1:100, using one ton of terracotta clay from the local Montelupo caves and natural pigments for coloring.  

Beyond the miniature clay town, a hand-drawn timeline traces 2,400 years of Tuscan history, from the Etruscans in the 3rd century BC to the present. Other exhibits detail rural life outside the city's fortified walls, medieval street life, and the inside and purposes of a typical tower. The “Life in the Palace” exhibit is a ceramic reconstruction of a 14th century fresco by Memmo di Filippuccio, and there is also a ceramic rendering of what the Convent of St. Francis, which was demolished in the 16th century, is believed to have looked like. The exhibits incorporate sound, photos and videos to enhance the historic experience.

San Gimignano 1300 is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., with hours extended to 11:00 p.m. from June through August. Tickets are 5€ for adults. For more information, call  (39) 0577 941078 or visit www.sangimignano1300.com  

Tuscan Wine School Opens in Siena

Traveling through Tuscany sipping all those delicious Tuscan vintages, wouldn't it be nice to get some context for how that crisp white or lovely red got to taste so good? Fortunately, the new Tuscan Wine School in makes a quick Tuscan wine lesson easy and affordable. Centrally located in Siena, this is the first designated wine school in the region to give classes in English. Three open classes are held each day, Monday through Saturday, for 25 or 40€ per person. A minimum of just two participants per class is required.

The Introduction Class provides an overview of Italian wines and Italian wine regions and allows participants to get any of their questions answered while tasting three vintages. The Italian Wine Class is a two-hour wine tour of Italy, including tasting and pairing strategies as well as details on all the major Italian wine regions, appellations and grape varietals. The Tuscan Wine Class focuses on the region's varying climate and terroir and includes tasting of five wines covering the major regional appellations.

The Tuscan Wine School is the brainchild of Danish expat Rebecca Christopherson who has worked in the food and wine industry in Tuscany for over 12 years. She has run a restaurant, worked as a wine distributor and led wine tours from Florence (which she still does – see www.tuscanwinesociety.com).  Christopherson and her team of English-speaking sommeliers are also available for private tastings and can arrange a wine lesson at your villa rental. Rates start at 245 € for a group of four people.

If you're planning on attending one of the school's open classes, be sure to e-mail to reserve at least 12 hours ahead of time. For more information, call  (39) 333 7229716  or visit www.tuscanwineschool.com

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