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A picture from San Gimignano

This may not be an especially striking picture, but I like it because it represents a bit of departure from the common type of San Gimignano photography. Most of the time people, myself customarily included, focus on the towers that give San Gimignano its unique skyline. While the towers retain prominence in this perspective, the flower pots on the balcony offer a pinch of colorful counterbalance to the medieval setting.

San Gimignano, Italy


I frequently spend time on my favorite shots to remove distracting elements such as wires and TV antennas to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing view, but in this case the antennas provide an additional contemporary marker to contrast the age of the buildings. I only wish I had the angle for the clothesline in the courtyard below to add more human element.

San Gimignano is not big and you can easily find similar perspectives by leaving main streets. In fact, few people would disagree that for all the town’s impressive collection of monuments, its main tourist routes – along Via San Giovanni and Via San Matteo, taking in the primary hot spots of Piazza della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo – are too busy, commercialized, and even Disney-ified to a degree. You need to find less-travelled back streets in order to fully appreciate all the magnificence and all the charm of San Gimignano.

Come to think of it, this is true for practically any destination. You can hit the highlights but you will not get a sense of a place until you step away from tourist crowds. So, by all means, do not miss anything that is on your personal must-see list – but also budget some time for exploring back streets.

I only have a couple of favorite shots in my portfolio that feature balconies decorated by flowers. It is uncanny how my randomized pick of a photo chose this picture so close to the Mantua entry.