Okay folks, settle in with some popcorn for this post. It’s gonna be a long one!
Day before yesterday was a long day. Just getting out of bed was not easy. My legs are sore and aching from walking all over the city. Walking isn’t the hard part, it’s all the stopping and standing to look at art and take photos. After awhile, my back started to hurt, then my knee, now my ankles. Everything is sore!
To take a break from all the walking, we opted to sit our butts in a car for a little sight-seeing in the Tuscan countryside. Not only was the weather sunny, but the air warmed up too. No more sweaters and jackets!
First stop was San Gimignano, a medieval hilltop town with a penchant for building towers. It’s in the heart of the Chianti region which means that it’s surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Although we’d already driven through the countryside, the colors and patterns still had us stopping with oohs and aahs.
The town is cute, but it’s full on touristville. Buses line up, pay parking lots, lines of curio shops as you walk in. You’ll be disappointed if you want the authentic small town Italian experience. Still, it’s well worth the visit. Maybe stay the night so you can have the place to yourself when the daytripping hoards leave.
After that it was off to Siena. The countryside was so gorgeous that we took the long winding way just to see what we could see. I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ve never seen colors and patterns like this together. Where I stopped the car, there was a farmer sharpening his saw to go into the olive trees and do some trimming. It’s truly a timeless place.
One thing I love about this place is how the roads and towns all follow high ridgelines. As we drive along, it almost feels like we’re in a plane. There’s also lots of roads to follow. In the US, there’s one road and the property surrounding it is all private so you miss out on a lot of the vistas. Here there’s so many side roads that you can get pretty much where ever you want to.
Along the road, we could see an old castle-walled city high on a hill. As we pulled into Monteriggioni, we could see a farmer plowing his fields. You could hear the old machine chugging along like you’d expect in an old movie.
For the past 700 years, people have been hanging their laundry to dry from the side of this building.
Next it was off to Siena. We’d already been driving for awhile, had just eaten and I was tired. I was ready to blow it off, but Jen insisted. I was ho-hum until we walked around a corner and saw this through the narrow alley way:
The tower in the main piazza is huge. All the cafes are arranged in a semi-circle so you can just sit and gawk in amazement. It’s almost skyscraper height but was built in the 14th century.
Then there’s the church…
And then there’s the twisting alleyways and ancient exposed woodwork. Siena is definitely worth spending some time visiting.
We had to leave Siena far too soon, but I wanted to hit the road to catch the evening light out in the countryside. Per Ian’s suggestion, I wanted to hit a couple towns south of Siena. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough daylight left. Still, we were treated to some magnificent vistas. I have no complaints.
I wish I could just crawl into this photo and live in it. Everything in it is so perfect.
And finally, as the last light drifted off the mountains…
Finally, it was back to Florence. By now, I’ve gotten the hang of the roads - except the last part getting over the bridge back to our apartment near the center. I think it only took about three wrong turns and four consultations with Google maps. A new record for us!