Roaming Around Tuscany – Travel Post, Part 1

San Gimignano

The towers of San Gimignano, there used to be even more!

It’s been 4 years since the last time we were in Italy. Waaaaay too long for me, so all year long whenever Cheryl asked ‘where would you like to travel next?’ I said ‘Italy.’ Every. Time. It seems to have worked because here we are in San Gimignano, Tuscany. Not that I really had to twist her arm much.

We picked San Gimignano as our base point mostly because we’d done Florence, wanted to stay in Tuscany, and San Gimignano is a stop on the Via Francigena and we like to hike. And I’m not ashamed to say we also recognized it from the Assasin’s Creed video game series. What we didn’t expect from this location was its close proximity to other hill towns and areas of Tuscany to explore. The weather in the beginning of the week was cloudy and drizzly so we decided the hike could wait until later. Instead of hiking we visited Volterra, Greve-in-Chianti, and Siena. Many thanks to our friends Andrew and Carolyn for their AWESOME notes on driving around Tuscany from their trip earlier this year.

Our first day trip was to Volterra, a town high up on a hill surrounded by valleys. You can see a long ways around from here. We had a great first lunch in Italy of some ribollita and lardo on toasted bread. Delicious. Not much to Volterra but the views are worth the drive.

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The Etruscans were here.

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So were the Romans. Apparently they all figured out no one could sneak up on you from up here.

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This gate didn't seem very special but...

This gate didn’t seem very special but…

it is the gate the Allies used when liberating Volterra.

…it is the gate the Allies used when liberating Volterra.

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Lardo di Colonnata makes for an excellent lunch on a fall afternoon

Lardo di Colonnata makes for an excellent lunch on a fall afternoon

The next day we went to Greve-in-Chianti, the unofficial capital of the Chianti region. There’s not too much to see there, but the drive in and out is breathtaking. Grapes all around. Lots of wine shops and in the main piazza there’s a great place to have lunch. A short drive above Greve is the little village of Montefioralle where the views are, once again, amazing.

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Chianti

Just eat here if you end up in Greve.

Just eat here if you end up in Greve.

Macellaria Falorni - Greve

Macellaria Falorni - Greve

Macellaria Falorni - Greve

Can you tell how happy I am?

Lunch!

Lunch! And yes, those are bits of lardo in the ceci.

From Montefioralle, above Greve.

From Montefioralle, above Greve.

Montefioralle

Montefioralle

And finally, Siena. Very pretty city. It was market day when we were there and after wandering through all the shoe and clothes stalls, found some lunch.

Siena

No idea how they have a horse race here!

No idea how they have a horse race here!

Market in Siena

Market in Siena

Then there was this guy...

Then there was this guy…

...selling porchetta...

…selling porchetta…that pig was FILLED with probably a truckload of whole garlic cloves…

...so we got lunch.

…so we got lunch.

Duomo in Siena

The sun had come out of the clouds and was hitting the Duomo just right…

Duomo Siena

…just right.

Siena

San Domenico

View of Piazza del Campo from up in Torre del Mangia

View of Piazza del Campo from up in Torre del Mangia

View of the Duomo from Torre del Mangia

View of the Duomo from Torre del Mangia

Not bad for a few day-trips! We did get to go on our hike today but you’ll have to wait until next week to see those photos and learn more about San Gimignano. Ciao!

 

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