Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Titivating Town of Towers

Today is the day we explore the quaint town of San Gimignano. 

We met our tour guide who was very knowledgable about the city of towers. The city was founded on one-uppers. The people here made it one large competition of who could build the larger tower. Not only that, but they were experts in loopholes. Technically they could only build a tower that was the same height as the original tower, but one night one tower owner added on to the top of his tower. When he was told that he was not allowed to have that addition to his tower, he simply explained to them that it wasn't an addition but instead another tower. This explanation made it legal for his tower to remain taller than the original landmark tower, because "technically" it's two different towers just stacked on one another. This city was the most interesting to me because of its reliability on saffron.

 Who knew a plant could have so much impact on the economy of such a small town. Not only does it take critical handling of saffron cultivation, but finding people who are willing to pick flowers and extract their stigmas just to have a fraction of product was probably hard to do. Just to put it into perspective, you would need 150,000 saffron flowers just to yield 1kg of product. Talk about labor intensive. Saffron is very precious, and HAS to be harvested at a specific time to ensure the flowers are closed, dried instantly, and can ONLY be cultivated organically. Saffron is so valuable that the town even used it to pay off their war debts! After learning about saffron, we ate lunch followed by a trip to the world renown gelateria. Recognized for its amazing gelato, they had quite the selection. They had every flavor from chocolate to lavender, there wasn't one selection that didn't look palatable. I decided on saffron and enjoyed its light flavor. Our trip today was very interesting, and more importantly educational.

-Jenna Rios

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