The reason for the towers has a sort of Montague and Capulet story. There became a long, on-going rivalry between two families (the Guelphs; who supported the Pope, and the Ghibellines; who supported the Holy Roman Emperor) and as a way to out-do each other, for 200 years the generations of these two families built the towers as a way of showcasing their wealth and influence (or perceived wealth and influence). At the height of the feud, there were 72 towers, the tallest being over 70 meters high. Today, there are 13 remaining towers; as towers either crumbled through neglect or were brought down over time to make room for more usable living space.
San Gimignano is also known for the production of many delicacies including wine, extra virgin olive oil, wild boar products such as sausage, and saffron. Vernaccia, the first Italian white wine to receive DOC and then DOCG recognition, is a beautiful, easy drinking white wine that starts out creamy and finishes clean with hints of pear and apple. I enjoyed it so much that I had some shipped to my home (and anyone who knows me knows I am predominantly a red wine drinker)
I got the opportunity to visit the Tenuta Torciano Winery and enjoy a very thorough tasting of a number of their wines. These included:
2013 Torciano Poggioaicieli Vernaccia DOCG
2013 Torciano Crete Rosse Chianti DOCG
2012 Torciano Doge Chianti Classico
2009 Torciano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
2010 Torciano Baldassarre "Super Tuscan" IGT
2010 Torciano Vin Beato Dessert Wine (not shown)
Served with the wine was bread with both their house olive oil and truffle infused olive oil, wild boar sausage, pecorino cheese and a radicchio and endive salad with their house balsamic reduction.
After all that wine and food tasting, it was time to head back to Siena and have a little nap before heading out for dinner and gelato.