Isola is a small 10th century village which was a stopping-off point
along the Via Francigena. It developed further in 1001 with the founding
of the Abbazia di S. Salvatore, and it took the name of Isola because
the surrounding area was marshland.
The town of Colle Val d'Elsa lies on the left-hand bank of the
river Elsa, and today is one of the most important crystal-producing
centres in Italy, an activity which started way back in the 14th century.
San Gimignano lies at 324 m above sea level on a hill overlooking
the Val d'Elsa. Surrounded by immaculately cultivated countryside,
it has been inhabited since Etruscan times, and is named after a bishop
saint from Modena who died in the 4th century.
Picture by Sandro Santioli