San Gimignano – Dolly Travels

Author: , March 12th, 2018

San Gimignano - Dolly Travels

Good morning, everyone,

Today I am thinking of San Gimignano. This is one of the hill towns of Tuscany. True to its designation, there are hardly any flat places in this town.

To get there, one would take a bus from Florence, change buses in Poggibonsi. You might have to wait about a half hour for the next bus, but you will have time for a cappuccino at the little cafe in the bus/train station. That is about an hour and a half trip, and a pleasant one. San Gimignano is probably the most accessible of all the hill towns, so it is a busy place. I have never taken the train to Poggibonsi, as I would still have to take the bus up the hill to San Gimignano. My bus ticket gets me all the way to San Gimignano.

Once you get to San Gimignano and get off the bus, you walk through a stone archway, up an old stone street, until you come to the main piazza.

As you walk through town, don’t expect any flat ground, for there isn’t any…well, in front of the restaurants where the tables are set up, that is pretty flat. But most of the time, you will be either walking uphill or downhill. The picture above is deceiving, for it really is going uphill.

This is a city of towers. There are 14 towers still standing, surviving from the 13th century. Tourists can now climb one of the towers. I tried it once, and had to turn back, as the staircase was built of see-through steel grating, and as the stairs spiraled up and up and up, it scared the heck out of me to look down the way I had traveled, and I could see the stone floor so far below me.

You can see the people on the tower on the right. If you don’t have a fear of heights, like I do, this is a marvelous experience, to be able to look over the countryside, and if the weather is absolutely clear, you can see all the way to Florence, for that city is only 25 miles away, as the crow flies, I do believe.

San Gimignano is busy, as I said, for many tourists are there in the daytime. I would love to stay overnight there one of these trips, and see how it feels in the evening and I would enjoy the quiet of the nighttime up there.

When I am in San Gimignano, I find places like this. I don’t feel the need to shop, unless it is at a shop where I can buy the salami that is made from the cinghiale, the wild boars that roam in the countryside nearby. That is one cold cut that I really enjoy.

However, for the most part, I wander through the cobblestone streets, through the tunnels, up the hills, and find neat little staircases.

At the main piazza, appropriately named Piazza dell Cisterna, there is the old well. This used to be the gathering spot for the locals, for most people had to come there to draw their water. It still seems to be the gathering spot for tourists, as it makes a perfect Meeting Point. Everyone should know where the well is.

There are many good restaurants and cafes in San Gimignano. There are gelato shops as well, and as I mentioned before, shops that sell the salami and cheeses. This town is also noted for its very good white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The red wine from this area is not so tasty; if you are a red wine drinker, order a Chianti from the other side of Tuscany, the area between Florence and Siena.

San Gimignano - Dolly Travels

Some of the salami with different cheeses and grissini, the little thin bread sticks. So yummy.

I hope I have given you a glimpse of San Gimignano; enough of a glimpse that you will want to go see this town for yourself. Despite this being such a touristy town, it still retains the old world feel, and if you venture through town, go up to the Rocco, a view point that has you looking south over the countryside, then go down away from the center, you will probably feel as I do, that this is a perfect hill town.

I will leave you now with this little slice of Italy. Arrivederci, until next time, when I will tell you about some other place that I love and will visit again in June.

Ciao for now,

By Dolly Goolsby – Full Story at Dolly Travels

Tuscany Gay Travel Resources

Gay Accommodations: Agriturismo Il Segreto di Pietrafitta, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

Author: , January 13th, 2016

Agriturismo Il Segreto di Pietrafitta

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Il Segreto di Pietrafitta is an elegant structure that rises on the gates of San Gimignano, the most famous medieval town in Tuscany. The origins of the structure are quite ancient, and many historical figures have slept within its walls. The Agriturismo is located on a dominant position, facing towards the magnificent town of San Gimignano. From here you’ll be able to easily reach Florence, Siena, and the Chianti region. There are also many wonderful small medieval towns to visit nearby, such as Volterra, Certaldo, Monteriggioni, and many others.

The structure offers 9 very comfortable rooms, meticulously decorated from local craftsmen, including floors covered with Cotto (typical Tuscan clay bricks), and wooden beams on the ceilings. No small details are left unnoticed here at Il Segreto di Pietrafitta!

See the Agriturismo Il Segreto di Pietrafitta Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Southern Tuscany

San Gimingnano and Siena

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

Want to Follow Bella’s Latest Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

Gay Friendly Southern Tuscany Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Locanda dell’ Artista, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy

Author: , April 8th, 2013

Locanda dell' Artista, San GimignanoPeriodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Feel at Home in Tuscany: The Locanda’s forty acre estate commands spectacular views of the towers of San Gimignano and the surrounding countryside, including sprawling vineyards, verdant forests, and the inn’s own lush olive groves and luxurious swimming pool.

See the Locanda dell’ Artista Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Western Tuscany

Tuscany Day Two: The Towers of San Gimignano

Author: , July 2nd, 2012

San Gimignano

San GimignanoAfter Siena and too few hours of sleep, Mark and I were exhausted, and slept on the way to our next destination, San Gimignano, our friend Bella’s favorite Tuscan hill town.

San GimignanoSan Gimignano is a beautiful city – we parked in a small lot just outside the centro storico, and walked in… the gate, of course, was covered for restoration. This has become an ongoing theme for us in Italy – something scenic is always covered, wherever we go.

When we arrived, the skies were still gray, but it was a bit warmer than it had been in Siena. We wandered up the main street, browsing in the boutique stores that lined the way.

We stopped at a little gelateria near the entry to get a little gelato – it was already five o’clock. and we were feeling snackish.

The main street is filled with ceramic shops and leather shops, and we found a couple things to take home here from a cute little kitchen store.

San Gimignano PiazzaSan Gimigiano has two linked central piazzas, very cute, one with a scenic pozzo (well) in the middle, and the whole town seems to be filled with towers.

Naked Rusted Male Statue, San GimignanoThroughout the town were newly installed, rusted metal statues of naked men, all the same, all on the same pose. Not sure where they’re going with that whole thing, but we liked it.

Tower Stairs, San GimignanoSpeaking of towers, we climbed our second one of the day here… shorter than the tower in Sienna, but less claustrophobic too.

You can see the age of these stairs by the way the stones sag in the middle – how many pairs of feet have they bourne?

View From San Gimignano TowerWe reached the top, which had two levels, and lo and behold the sun came out, giving us magnificent vistas of San Gimignano and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.

San Gimignano Tower Courtyard FrescoesWe climbed back down, and at the bottom, we found a beautiful little courtyard, filled with frescoes, and stopped to take a few photos.

From there, we continued on to explore the town, discovering a cute little courtyard with a harpist whose beautiful music drew us into the gates. She played us a haunting rendition of Greensleeves that had me captivated. We left her a couple Euro and thanked her profusely.

Marco and Fabry, DivasWe wandered back through the town, Mark and Fabry playing the divas down a long staircase.

With the sun out, we followed our original path back through the city to take some beautiful, blue-sky-filled pictures of the town.

Finally, we reached the gate once more and returned to the car, worn out from our first full day exploring Tuscany.

Featured Gay Friendly Accommodations: Fortezza de’ Cortesi, San Gimignano, Italy

Author: , June 6th, 2012

Periodically we’ll feature one of our properties here to let our readers know about some great gay friendly places to stay.

Fortezza de' Cortesi, San Gimignano, Tuscany, ItalyWelcome to Fortezza de ‘Cortesi, dedicated to our guests, who want to totally immerse themselves in the Tuscan countryside without sacrificing the charm and comfort of our exclusive accommodations.

We offer a charming retreat in the San Gimignano countryside that has been awarded the “agriturismo” Tuscany top classification of three wheat sheaves.

The beautiful historic building was once an old castle, built in the 10th century or earlier.

Our little village is on the old pilgrim route of the Via Francigena, partway between Florence and Siena, alone on top of a hill. The hill offers fantastic Tuscan country views, as well as vies of the famous towers of San Gimignano, just 3 miles away – where history, art and culture come together with the beauty of colors and rhythm of nature.

See the Fortezza de’ Cortesi Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals in Western Tuscany

Postcards From An Italian Adventure – San Gimignano

Author: , May 28th, 2010

Our dear friend, Bella (Dolly Goolsby) is on an extended adventure in Italy. She has graciously agreed to let us republish her travel logs. She’s using a new iPad, and had a bit of trouble getting us pictures at first, but as her story progresses, we’ll have some great pics to share with the Purple Roofs readers too. Enjoy!

San Gimignano

Tuesday, May 12th:

Buon giorno, everyone,

San GimignanoDespite the rain, almost every single day since our arrival, we have been able to stay pretty busy. Sunday, Mother’s Day, we did get a beautiful sunny day. We started our day with a lovely brunch here at the apartment then 4 of the ladies went to the Accademia to see David. It was such a beautiful day, that later we went for a walk, about 3 miles, I think, down to a main street, Via Mazzini, then followed it around until we got to the Arno, followed it for a while, ending in Santa Croce piazza. The food stalls were still there; I ventured away from traditional Tuscan food, and bought a Wurstel and beer from the Tirol booth. There was a puppeteer there putting on a show for children, and actually let the children play with some of the puppets.

San GimignanoLater, we came back to the apartment, made dinner of chicken marsala, mushroom risotto, green salad, zucchini with red bell peppers, and of course, vino. Now having 2 apartments, with 2 kitchens really came in handy. 4 of the ladies went upstairs and made the risotto, while Cherie and I stayed here and prepared the rest of the meal. It was quite tasty.

When it was time to wash dishes, we remembered that we did not have any hot water….that had gone down earlier in the day, so we washed dishes in 2 apartments, heated water on the stove for dishes down here…I felt like I was back on the farm in Idaho, but of course, the problem had been fixed now.

San Gimignano

Yesterday, we did go to San Gimignano, although the skies looked threatening. We were very fortunate, and never got rained on all day, and we spent a nice, long day there. We had lunch at the Ristorante Belsoggiorno where the dining room overlooks the Tuscan valley. We had such wonderful meals, that none of us ate much that evening, just snacked on leftovers.

Today, we finally got to do the historic Florence tour with Massimo. It was great. He took us first to Piazza Reppublica, where Florence actually started, showed us different types of architecture, showed us where the ancient walls were. One wall was right near us, on Via Guelfa and Via Alfani.

We went across the Arno toward the Pitti Palace, to San Spirito church, back across the river, stopped to have a nice little panini and cappucchino, then came back home. Massimo gave us a wonderful tour. He is a very good tour guide, and we enjoyed the tour very much. We thought it very nice of the weather man to hold off the rain until our tour was finished, then the rain came down in buckets.

San Gimignano

The rest of the day was pretty quiet…..since we are in an apartment, a certain amount of time has to be devoted to housekeeping chores, so we did laundry and cleaning. Now we have opened a San Gimignano white wine, will wander out for a sandwich and a gelato in a bit. We don’t want to cook tonight, as we leave very early in the morning for Assisi. We tried to finish all the leftovers at lunch…so our refrigerator is nearly bare.

I am sending a few pix this time. You will see Sharona and Carmella (Janice) at right, smiling after they successful purchased our autobus tickets for San Gimignano. Tomorrow, I am handing over the ticket money again, and they are to get us direct tickets to Assisi, with no changes of trains.

They are very good, and have been helping me when I stumble on the Italian language. We are trying to speak as much as we can.

Dolly "Bella" Goolsby

Ciao for now. Please write us and let us know how things are in the U.S. We are expecting a great ash cloud from the volcano to descend on us this coming week. I shall let you know what happens with that…we may look like the statues in Pompeii….I hope not….

Want to Follow Bella’s Adventure Directly? Check Out Dolly Travels

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