An Afternoon in San Gimignano

There is a point when you move somewhere that you feel the bed you are sleeping in is as comfortable as the one at home. Okay, that’s a lie, no bed is like the bed at home. But usually at that point it’s time you are about to leave the place. One more week in Florence…

I woke up at 9 am today, had breakfast, and walked to the intercity bus station to catch a bus to San Gimignano, a little town on top of one of the Tuscan hills. I managed to buy the tickets without any trouble, and found the right bus to get on (this took a little bit longer, as the bus driver keep telling people to wait a moment. We finally got what he meant when the other bus arrived and he started telling people on his bus to get on the other one, which has direct service to Siena). To get to San Gimignano, there is no direct bus, and changing bus at Poggibonsi was required. I figured since there were so many tourists all going to San Gimignano, I would just follow everyone else, and it worked. I arrived in the right place at noon, where this little city surrounded by walls was full of tourists. It did give me the medieval feeling that my travel guide told me it has though.

San Gimignano is not really a big city, as I walked from one end of it to the other in pretty much one hour, including time when I stopped to look at stuff in shops and such. The most notable feature of the city is its towers. Kind of like Lucca, there were families battling each other in the city back in the 13th century. Towers were a great way not only to defend themselves, but also to expand living space. Out of the original 60 or so towers that were in the city, only 14 of them are still standing.

Really, that’s pretty much all there were in the place, other than the duomo and little museums in the city (speaking of museums, Italians seem to really like torture museums, as at every city I visited, there was at least one, or more than three in the case of San Gimignano, of them). I walked around the city, had plain focaccia (meaning there’s no topping, the thing itself is seasoned with olive oil and salt) for lunch, and for the first time got myself a cup of gelato that had three scoops.

Lesson to learn: when we first arrived in Florence, the on-site staff told us that we should never spend more than 2 euros each time on gelato. Well, the three scoops I got was 2,70 euro, consisted of fior di latte (literally “flower of milk”, pretty much milk flavor), malaga (rum raisin, I actually had no idea what this was when I got it, but it tasted good), armarena (fior di latte with sour cherry sauce, no idea what this was too), and a piece of waffle cookie thing on top. All was good until the thing started melting under the sun, so by the time I got to the bottom of it, I was pretty much eating ice cream soup. Note to self: buy less than 2 euros, and you get to have ice cream as ice cream from start to finish.

I walked around the city a little bit more, climbing up and down here and there. As the city is on top of a hill, it provided a really nice view to the surrounding areas, where there are vineyards and olive trees everywhere, just what I thought Tuscany would look like.

By sometime around 2:45 pm, I was ready to leave the town, after buying my parents a bottle of white wine specifically produced here – Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which wasn’t really expansive but a little heavy to carry in my bag. I got to the intercity bus stop, and found out that the bus that leaves for Poggibonsi won’t depart until 3:40 pm. I was too tired to walk around, so I found a spot on the nearby walls to sit, and enjoyed the view of Tuscany for the time I was waiting. I think Frances Myers really was onto something.

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