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Colle di Val d’Elsa

South of San Gimignano, Colle di Val d’Elsa is `crystal city,’ a commercial success story based on crystal. Luckily, it’s also a cultural gem, once set on the Via Francigena pilgrimage trail, which led from Canterbury to Rome. The town was a medieval pawn in the endless battles between Guelf and Gibelline factions so needed its fortifications to survive. Today, it’s a curious town of two parts, with the hilltop historical center dominating a newer district below. The lower `new’ town is a busy, haphazard sprawl that has sprung up around the crystal factory – Colle is Italy’s largest producer of crystal and fine glass. After a cursory visit to the lower town, head to the ancient upper town. Here, an engaging medieval mood prevails, with a main street lined by dignified 16th-century mansions. Take in the views over the Tuscan countryside before settling down to lunch in a local inn.

Essential Colle di Val d’Elsa Information

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