San Gimignano, Chianti, Monteriggioni, Siena
21.07.2014 - 24.01.2015 18 °C
We were interested in visiting the Tuscany region and on our hotels suggestion, had pre-booked 2 full day tours through them. The first day was a tour of San Gimignano, Chianti, Monteriggioni and Siena. The second day would cover Lucca and Pisa. However, on reaching Florence we realized that there are several such local tour companies which offer special packages if you book with them directly. For e.g. the tour company through which our hotel had done the booking had a free half day city tour of Florence if you book 2 other full day tours with them. So if we would have done the booking through them directly after reaching Florence, we would have got the free city tour as well. Anyways, we learnt from our mistake and hence noting this down so that it might help someone else.
We reached San Gimignano at around 9 AM. San Gimignano is a small walled town in Tuscany known for its medieval streetscapes and towers. It is known as the ‘Town of Fine Towers’ and is known for the preservation of a couple of its tower houses. We were left to explore San Gimignano on our own. It is a small town and we walked around for some time. I have never ever seen a town as fascinating as San Gimignano, it makes you feel that you are in a different world.
The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano is situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. As cited on Wikipedia, the basilica is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", with its frescos being described by UNESCO as "works of outstanding beauty". Isha had a great time climbing up and down the staircase leading to the Duomo. We spent around an hour and half in San Gimignano including the time we spent in enjoying a gelato
After San Gimignano, we were driven to the Chianti region which is one of the most beautiful in all of Italy with its lush green hills, vineyards and olive groves. It is a pleasure to just drive by looking at the natural beauty all around.
We went to one of the wine estates in the region where we were a part of a guided tour of the wine cellars. Our host for the afternoon was a charming gentleman who gave us an insight into the various stages of wine production, taught us the right way to hold the wine glass, the best way to sip the wine to get a taste of all the flavors, with numerous anecdotes all along. We tasted various wines and olive oils that the winery produced along with bruschetta, salads and pastas. My favorite was the Vin Santo which is the Italian dessert wine. It was an amazing experience.
We moved on to Siena which is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and Palio, a horse race held twice a year. We were given a guided tour of the city which was a waste for us as Isha was running around and we could not hear half the things. The most important square in Siena is the Piazza del Campo which is famous worldwide for the Palio. The campo has the Palazzo Pubblico and its tower, Torre del Mangia. This sloping square was very different from the others which we had seen so far in Italy. Surrounded by Cafes and restaurants, it is a lovely place to sit doing nothing.
The town's emblem is a she-wolf suckling the infants Romulus and Remus and statues depicting the same can be seen all over the city.
Siena Cathedral was another attraction on our list, and though we did not enter the church we were greatly fascinated by the exteriors.
After leaving from Siena, our last stop for the day was Monteriggioni which is a medieval walled town, located on a natural hillock. You need to climb the hill and after the tiring long day, we did not really find anything great about this town.
We were dropped back to the Florence train station by 8:00 PM from where we took a cab back to the hotel. We had dinner at La Capannina Bistrot near San Lorenzo market. We had seafood spaghetti and chicken primavera both of which was delicious. The best part about this little trattoria is that you can watch your food being cooked and Isha thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our day though tiring, was very good and we went to bed looking forward to our last day in Florence.