One beautiful morning we decided to take a longer day trip and plotted our course east to San Gimignano, the ancient Tuscan city renowned for their towers. Today, 13 towers remain of the original 72 that once crowded the hilltop. Tourists flock to this scenic city, and the main areas are busy and crowded, but you can still find quiet spots to wander on the back alleys.
You can learn more about the history of the city and their present day lodging, shops, restaurants and events at their website: http://www.sangimignano.com/en/
We parked below the main gate at a grocery store where the tour buses park, and walked up the hill to the main gate, shown here. There is a public restroom at the parking lot (just so you know).
Inside the main gate …
Shops featuring traditional Tuscan wares line the streets, along with restaurants, gelato shops, food stores and various merchants.
Some of their famous towers…
One of the main piazzas…
Here’s a nice panorama of a popular area…
The well in the center of the piazza is a good resting spot to enjoy your gelato and rest your feet.
It was a bit early for lunch and we were hungry, so we decided to do as everyone else seemed to be doing and have a gelato appetizer. The Gelateria Dondoli seemed to be doing a brisk business so we lined up to wait our turn.
So many choices…
We wandered out to the panoramic overlook with our gelato and there were several artists set up, along with a harpist setting a heavenly mood.
Back out on the main streets, there are many art galleries featuring beautiful Tuscany.
We had seen enough for us, so decided to leave the tourist zone and head to our next destination, Volterra. Leaving the main city gate…
We wound our way through the countryside, continuing east, and along the way would catch glimpses of Gimignano and other small hilltop villages.
We had traveled several miles and passed a prison when we saw this view of San Gimignano and stopped for a parting shot.
The countryside nearing Volterra
There is a pull-out next to this big circle so you can stop and take your photo inside the circle with the vast countryside in the background.
We had climbed up, up, up on narrow ridges, finally reaching Volterra.
We found a parking spot along the road below the walled fortress walls, and then walked, up, up,up many stairs to reach the entrance.
Inside the city gates of Volterra, it was quiet with only a few tourists in sight.
Volterra is a town of artisans – their are renowned for their carved alabaster and also had art galleries, craft shops, handmade jewelry, a weaving shop that I loved, and more.
I was enchanted with the architectural details of this building – especially the iron griffins.
Visit the Alabaster Museum if you are interested in seeing their art from start to finish
Statue in the park by the Alabaster Museum
Our gelato had worn off by now and we were hungry again, so we chose the restaurant with open air seating by the park and museum.
Please let me eat my pizza.
A nice local wine, pizza and wild boar pasta did the trick
I loved the pepper store’s sign for pepper temperatures.
Guidebooks had mentioned the city hall as a good place to go for a good view of the countryside from their tower. When you go inside there is nothing to guide you to the second floor where they sell tickets to several of the town museums and their tower viewing.
What an intricate doorway!
I loved this owl sign
These austere and plain buildings hide a wealth of beauty inside.
Crests of local families on the city hall
I love the street musicians in Italy – they create such an inviting atmosphere as you wander about their city.
Inside city hall
We were tired and ready to go home. This was a nice view on our way out.
That’s it for today!