San Gimignano and Volterra, Italy

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).

IMG_4080Inside the main gate …

IMG_4082Shops featuring traditional Tuscan wares line the streets, along with restaurants, gelato shops, food stores and various merchants.

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IMG_4084Some of their famous towers…

IMG_4087One of the main piazzas…

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IMG_4093Here’s a nice panorama of a popular area…

IMG_5563The well in the center of the piazza is a good resting spot to enjoy your gelato and rest your feet.

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IMG_4102It 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.

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IMG_4106So many choices…

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IMG_4119We wandered out to the panoramic overlook with our gelato and there were several artists set up, along with a harpist setting a heavenly mood.

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IMG_4123Back out on the main streets, there are many art galleries featuring beautiful Tuscany.

IMG_4125We had seen enough for us, so decided to leave the tourist zone and head to our next destination, Volterra. Leaving the main city gate…

IMG_4126We wound our way through the countryside, continuing east, and along the way would catch glimpses of Gimignano and other small hilltop villages.

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IMG_4137We had traveled several miles and passed a prison when we saw this view of San Gimignano and stopped for a parting shot.

IMG_4138The countryside nearing Volterra

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IMG_4149There 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.

IMG_4155We had climbed up, up, up on narrow ridges, finally reaching Volterra.

IMG_4159We found a parking spot along the road below the walled fortress walls, and then walked, up, up,up many stairs to reach the entrance.

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IMG_4164Inside the city gates of Volterra, it was quiet with only a few tourists in sight.

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IMG_4170Volterra 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.

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I was enchanted with the architectural details of this building – especially the iron griffins.

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IMG_4179Visit the Alabaster Museum if you are interested in seeing their art from start to finish

IMG_4183Statue in the park by the Alabaster Museum

IMG_4184Our 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.

IMG_4188Please let me eat my pizza.

IMG_4189A nice local wine, pizza and wild boar pasta did the trick

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IMG_4194I loved the pepper store’s sign for pepper temperatures.

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IMG_4205Guidebooks 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.

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IMG_4211What an intricate doorway!

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IMG_4214I loved this owl sign

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IMG_4217These austere and plain buildings hide a wealth of beauty inside.

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IMG_4223Crests of local families on the city hall

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IMG_4228I love the street musicians in Italy – they create such an inviting atmosphere as you wander about their city.

IMG_4232Inside city hall

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IMG_4235We were tired and ready to go home. This was a nice view on our way out.

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IMG_4242That’s it for today!

Categories: Travel: ITALY | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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