Volterra, San Gimignano, Certaldo
It is an Etruscan settlement with finds that date back to the IX century BC. The walls and the splendid dominating position made the town easily defendable, as proved by the fact that it was the last Etruscan center to suffer the military and cultural domination by the Romans. In the V century, the main public buildings and the last of the city walls were constructed while the divisions between the Guelph and Ghibelline families favored the advent of the Florentine domination, making it an important military center in the struggle against Siena. To strengthen the defensive structures the Medici built a fortress: today such a structure, shows obvious signs of all historic periods making Volterra a true open air museum. The walls and the gates (Porta dell'Arco) are of the Etruscan period, the archaeological area with the Theatre and Roman Forum, the Palazzo Dei Priori (the oldest public building in Tuscany), the Municipal Palazzo, the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the walls are from the Medieval period.
San Gimignano is a medieval village perched on a hill over 300m above sea level, famous for the ancient city walls and its towers dominating the whole valley, heritage of the social flourishing and political supremacy of the city (XI and XIII century): 72 towers were built, each higher than the previous one. Today, only 13 of those towers are still standing, others are in ruins, but still visible. Declared by UNESCO World Heritage site. The Cathedral ( Duomo) is considered one of the most precious museums in Tuscany with its collection of frescoes from the Florentine School: Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio e Jacopo della Quercia; the Palazzo Comunale holding art pieces by Pinturicchio, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino...
This small town in Valdelsa of Etruscan-Roman origin has two centres, the older one rising on high land (Certaldo Alto or Castello) and the other lying below (Certaldo Basso or Borgo). The medieval Rione Castello contains the Casa del Boccaccio (now museum), where the great writer and poet lived in several periods of his life and is said to have died in 1375, and many other important buildings. The main feature of most medieval hamlets, like Certaldo, is their main square. In medieval times, a town's major buildings and local powers faced onto its main square, where the religious, political, civil and commercial headquarters were based. Certaldo, instead, is located on the slopes of a hillside and it didn't have much space for a large piazza. The squares that exist in Certaldo today were in the past gardens, set up to feed citizens in the event of siege.