San Gimignano, the authentic medieval village
Villa Iris is a luxury villa with pool near San Gimignano, a small settlement halfway between Siena and Florence. Located on the borders of the Chianti region, from where you can still view the landscape, San Gimignano is in fact one of the best-preserved Mediaeval villages in the world and the reason why it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
A very fortunate location
Amongst other things, the city owes its success to its location: it is located exactly at the midpoint between the major cities of Pisa, Siena and Florence, and the Via Francigena passed through here - the road that pilgrims used to take on their way to Rome. Its particular location made San Gimignano the ideal place for business and trade, and between the years 900 and 1500 roughly, the city prospered.
Today you can still breathe in the unmistakable mediaeval atmosphere of the 14th century within its walls, and its fourteen famous towers stand out on its highly recognisable skyline, positioned around the perimeter and near to the two main roads that run through the area. These towers are reminders of the wealthy and noble merchant families that controlled the city and had these highly symbolic edifices constructed to demonstrate their power to the world.
The towers of San Gimignano, some perfectly preserved, others 'decapitated' - or shortened following the ruling family's fall from power - form a circle around the village which itself sits on top of a hill in a position particularly well-suited for defense, which further highlights the contours of the city.
A rich gourmet culture
San Gimignano too is not short of the typical gourmet products that everyone should try as part of their stay at Villa Iris. Zafferano D.O.P. (saffron) is the most notable of the products available, which is produced only in the municipality of San Gimignano and processed entirely by hand so as not to damage the delicate flowers of the plant from which the spice is extracted. This product is so valuable that it was used as a currency to pay for goods in the past.
Finally, a glass of San Gimignano Vernaccia - the first wine in Italy to obtain DOC classification in 1966 - could be the perfect conclusion to your visit to San Gimignano, near Villa Iris.