During our sojourn to Italy we took a day trip tof the medieval walled town o San Gimignano. Getting there from Florence is pretty straight forward even if you are not driving.
We’d read the guidebooks and spoken to others, so we knew that we were going to see some amazing sights mixed with shop after shop eagerly seeking to get the tourist dollar. The sites outweigh the endless tourist traps. It is a spectacular place a town set on a hill that dominates its surrounds. It was also just as my imaginings of Tuscany had been probably most likely because so many of the photographs of Tuscany in guide books and brochures are from San Gimignano.
The bus drops you at the gates or if you drive you have a choice of two cents parks which conveniently have signs saying how many parks are available in each. It felt very Disneyland as we walked through the gates and into Yesterdayland. Just as with Disneyland it is quite special.
The town has UNESCO World Heritage status it seems because the Medicis said no to any further building works. the result being that rather than being modernised it was left as it was. The buildings, stone walls, towers and views are truly spectacular but as so many of the reviews say it is a tourist trap.
I had the opportunity to buy wooden swords, replica cross bows, cheeses, tea towels, wine, ceramics … I succumbed and bought the guide card! If buying kitsch is your bag, as with all tourist locations the price seems to decrease as you get further from the entrance/exit – so be patient. Even so prices are definitely set for the tourist and albeit that it was the first week in December there were plenty of us there! I can’t imagine what it would be like in the peak of season.
As had been our approach to our time in Italy we avoided the museums and walked the streets. I’m sure the museums are worthwhile but so are the lovely walled streets, arches, churches, panoramic views and the 14 towers that the town is perhaps most famous for. No need to put your hand in your pocket, just wander and you’ll be rewarded.
Our wanderings up through the middle of the town led us to a very pleasant Cucina for lunch in a slightly out of the way street right at the top of what we were very quickly appreciating was a very beautiful town.
Lunch was simple soup and a glass of red wine. Delightful. A very relaxing hour out of the cold.
After lunch we made our way down taking in the perimeter that provided spectacular views from the walls. The wind was bracing only adding to the charm. Our walk down brought us back to the entrance and back to where I thought the bus stop would be to take us back to Florence. It wasn’t the right place. The bus stops at the town entrance to drop you off buy takes you back from a different spot which we would never have found without our spying one of our fellow travelers form our morning bus ride.
Travel hint – there are signs all over the town pointing to the bathrooms (toilets) suggesting there is more than one. We only found one in the middle of the town!