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Pointy Skylines and Glittering Frescoes in Tuscany

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When it comes to hill towns in Tuscany, San Gimignano is the region's glamour girl, getting all of the attention from passing tour buses. A quick stroll through its core, in the shadows of its 14 surviving medieval towers, is a delight.

Local guides claim that Minoru Yamasaki, the architect of New York City's World Trade Center, was inspired by San Gimignano's twin towers. (I have no idea if that's true, but they sure look like they could have.) While only 14 of the town's original 72 towers are still standing, these sisters have stood here for 700 years.

Way back in the days when Rome was falling, the people of this town were saved from barbarian ransacking by the local bishop. He eventually became a saint, and they eventually named their town after him. Today, you can see glittering frescoes of Saint Gimignano holding his town (back when it had a lot more of those towers).