March 14, 2017

San Gimignano, Italy. October, 1981

Sharpen your pencils. There’s something about the onset of autumn that always makes me feel good. Maybe it’s the former schoolteacher in me, the tendency toward organization and a tightening of the laziness brought on by summer’s heat and humidity. Even in this medieval Tuscan hilltown I was drawn toward the local schoolbus, appropriately sized for this tiny walled hamlet not far from Siena, still relatively uncrowded when I visited some 30 years ago. I remember a man selling bottles of homemade Vernaccia wine from his open garage. I wonder what changes three more decades of tourism have wrought. I love and am amused by the fact that San Gim is sometimes called “the Manhattan of Italy” because of its 14 towers, though these famed structures were mostly built in the 12th century rather than the 20th. Originally founded by Etruscans and later named after a bishop who defended the town from Attila’s Huns, the town has a rich history and has now been recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage site. I suspect that the schoolbus and its inhabitants haven’t changed too much as a result of this distinction.

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