San Gimingnano and Siena

Published Date Author: , May 20th, 2013

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on the go again, this time in Italy. She has graciously allowed us to republish her travel blogs. Enjoy!

Tuscany - DollyWe are seeing so much, and traveling around the Tuscan countryside, visiting the hill towns, then cooking wonderful Italian meals nearly everyday. We did have a free Florence day on Friday. Everyone did their own thing, saw what they wanted to see, then shared our experiences with each other at dinner Friday night. I was going to write a blog post then, but we had to get up early again Saturday morning to go on another adventure, so I am falling behind in my posts. Now I want to tell you a bit about San Gimingnano and Siena then next post I will tell you about Pisa.

Tuesday morning, we got on a bus that took us to San Gimingnano. I have been there several times, as it is the easiest hill town to go to from Florence, but I never get tired of it. One enters the city through a stone archway in the city wall, and then proceeds up the street to the main square. Of course, you will pass many shops that sell products of the area: sausage made from the wild boar (cinghiale), wine, ceramics, alabaster, olive wood products. But to me, these things, wonderful as they might be, are not the attraction in San Gimingnano.

Rather, the beauty of this old city, in my eyes, is in the hilly streets, the ancient churches, the towers, the absolute breath-taking views of the Tuscan landscapes from some of the vantage points. San Gimingnano is truly a lovely place to visit. Yes, there were crowds of tourists in the most easily accessible areas of the town; therefore, I preferred to explore some of the less visited areas, escaping into the back streets, up cobblestone streets, around another ancient wall, stopping to talk to a cat in the back streets, saying “Buongiorno” to a man who was walking his dog.

At lunchtime, all of us met for lunch. We found a lovely ristorante that had an open terrace with another view of the countryside.

We had just finished our lunch and were waiting for the check, when it started to rain. But we had already had a full day, so we made our way back to the bus stop, buying a few goodies along the way, then came back to Florence. We were all pretty tired, but the rain had stopped by the time we got back, so it turned out to be a nice day altogether.

Thursday morning, the sky was pretty threatening again, but Siena was on our agenda, so off we went again to the bus stop. We arrived in Siena, and of course, it was raining, but not so hard that we couldn’t sight see. We all got to see the Duomo, and toured the inside of that. Once again we had to walk up cobblestone streets, down old stone staircases, around narrow passageways, to see the old city.

Kiri and Patrick wanted to climb up to the top of this tower, but it was closed because of the rain.

We finished our visit to Siena with lunch in a lovely restaurant.

The rain stopped for a brief moment, then started up again, making our trek back to the bus station wet and miserable, but we had enjoyed our visit to Siena, in spite of that.

The weather in Florence was great… No clouds, no rain. After we had a chance to rest up. And clean ourselves up, we walked to Il Latini for dinner. I love that restaurant. Our waiter told us what was on the menu that evening, and we elected to go with a “sampler” menu. We were brought plates of prosciutto and melon, some kind of sausage, pate on toasts, caprese salad. This was followed by dishes of penne pasta with a rustic meat and tomato sauce, small gnocchi with a sauce made from rabbit, ravioli with a fresh tomato and basil sauce. We each chose our own entree. Some had prime rib, some a roasted veal chop, or half a roasted chicken.

Of course, we had to have some of the good red wine with our meal, but we weren’t done yet. They brought a sampler of several different types of desserts, plus vin santo with cantucci to dip in the vin santo, a sparkling moscato to go with the desserts, and limoncello to finish the feast.

We only got a picture of the outside of the restaurant while we waited for it to open up. We were far too busy eating to take pictures during dinner, much to my regret.

My thanks to Kiri, for the pictures on this blog post.

Saturday was another long day, but fun. That adventure will be in the next blog post.

Till then, arrivederci

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