Towards the end of November, the school had a field trip to the small towns of Montepulciano and Pienza. A small handful of us attended, around 15. It was an intimate group of people in a welcoming town.
Montepulciano is located in the Province of Siena. It’s about an hour and a half south of Florence. This was the first small and Renaissance town that I had been to in my travels. I was used to visiting metropolises of countries; major cities like London, Vienna, Munich and others. It was an incredible change of pace to drive out into the rolling hills of Tuscany and Siena and to see a city of brick set back into the hillside.
Our first stop was to the San Biagio church where we met our tour guide. The building was impressive and the history that went with it was as well. The late Renaissance building was designed by Antonio da Sangallo, and inspired by many builders and architects, including the work of Brunelleschi. As one who is not religious, I always find that it is an interesting experience to explore a place where people have found solace in their worship.
As we were making our way to Palazzo Comunale, we passed a man working in his shop. We gathered around the narrow doorway and watched him heat pieces of metal over a torch, and then hammer it. As we began to move away from the doorway, he came outside and called back to us in Italian. He invited us into his shop and with the help of our translator, he explained the history of his craft and how it had been passed down in his family for generations.