Bella Tuscany

by Johnny

With a few days to spare after Brian and Marisa left and before we meet my parents in Lucca, Anna and I rented an apartment in San Gimignano.  A little over an hour bus ride from Florence, San Gimignano has been called Medieval Manhattan because of its tall towers located throughout the town.  The towers were built as symbols of power and wealth of the city’s medieval families, and 14 of the original 72 are still standing today.  Enough with the history lesson…San Gimignano is the Tuscany you see in paintings, postcards and your dreams.  It’s a picturesque little town full of piazzas made for long lunches and bottles of the local Vernaccia wine perched high up on a hill with views of vineyards for miles.  And in the morning before the tour buses come and in the afternoon when they leave, San Gimignano is heaven on earth.

Piazza della Cisterna at night
Piazza della Cisterna Piazza del Duomo
Bell tower in Piazza del Duomo
Typical view in San Gimignano
Cooking in our apartment…chicken with lemon and capers We made the meat sauce from our cooking class
View from the wine bar DiVinorum

One day when we weren’t tasting Vernaccia wine or popping in and out of San Gimignano’s numerous hand-painted ceramics shops, we went for a bike ride to the tiny town of San Lucia just a few kilometers away.  The owner of our apartment, Claudio, gave us the key to his garage so we could use his mountain bikes at any time.  Bonus!  After a couple hours of navigating the hilly region around San Gimignano, our legs and buns were spent, but we were rewarded with some great views.

View back towards San Gimignano
The leaves are starting to change colors
Doing some laundry out in the olive grove Resting those legs

We also took a day trip to Siena, a place Anna and I had always wanted to see.  We hung out for a while in Siena’s main piazza, Piazza del Campo, which many believe is one of Italy’s best piazzas.  It seems like the entire town of Siena takes their lunch break on the sloping piazza, catching up on some sun and gossip.  Then we headed over to Siena’s impressive cathedral.  Being on a budget, we’re pretty picky about what sights we pay to see, but immediately upon entering the cathedral we knew it was money well spent.  The black and white walls and columns, the midnight blue dome and the “most beautiful floor in the world” make it a truly unique sight.  Afterwards, we climbed to the Panorama del Facciatone, which is at the top of what was supposed to be the new cathedral in Siena before the plague wiped out most of the town’s population.

Piazza del Campo Piazza del Campo
Typical street view in Siena
Siena’s cathedral and Duomo
Staring up at Siena’s Duomo Inside the cathedral
Beetlejuice!  Beetlejuice!  Beetlejuice!
View from Panorama del Facciatone Rooftops of Siena
On top of Panorama del Facciatone

On our last night, we treated ourselves to dinner at Le Vecchie Mura, which has to have one of the best views in all of Tuscany. Combine the views with the best gnocchi of all time, and you have a winning combination. As it got dark and we were ready to pay the bill, we saw the longest, brightest shooting star we’ve ever seen. Naturally, I took this as a sign to get a triple scoop gelato cone. A great way to say “ciao” to San Gimignano.

Dinner at Le Vecchie Mura
View from dinner Enjoying the view
Goodnight, San Gimignano

One Comment to “Bella Tuscany”

  1. I’m so impressed you guys made the meat sauce from our class!!!! How did it turn out? It looks just like the ‘original’ one :).

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