This is always one of my favorite days of the trip. I think I say that about every day on this trip. Today we get a nine am start and head to Mercatale for a coffee and pastry and watch this little slice of Italy come alive. With our coffee stop complete we then make our way to gas up the cars and then make our trek across Tuscany to first the city of towers, San Gimignano and then on to Siena. With the rain from the night before, we wake up to the wafting fog in the Valley below. Watching the fog move in an about the Umbrian hills is like watching a meditative movie. The sound of the chirping birds and the occasional gunshot from the hunters.....well that's Umbria.
This group has been my best driving group yet! Of course Google Maps has improved the process of getting around tremendously. If you can learn how to drop pins and then navigate to the pins you can get anywhere in Italy. Add the street view feature and you can virtually drive there first so you get a visual on everything. Well my travelers really started to get the pinning down and that’s great practice for our drive across Italy just two days ahead!
So we all made it to my favorite parking lot in San Gimignano and of course you have to usually wait for someone to leave to grab a space but with all of my travelers we can use human shields for parking spots and that works great. With everyone parked we hike up the hill to the main street through this picturesque medieval hill town. We pick our rendezvous spot and then give everyone a couple hours to grab lunch and explore.
I love walking the streets and snapping away – its pretty endless. Grab a slice of pizza which we enjoy on the steps, take in a church or two and then its time to gather the troops again, make our way back to the cars for our 1 hour jaunt to Siena.
Ok, now I can see who really is getting the whole Google Map pinning concept down as driving in Siena can be a bit more challenging. Well as I said, I have a great driving group this year and despite us getting separated everyone made it to the parking lot I had pinned. Gather the human shields and get everyone parked and we are off to explore my favorite town in Italy…..really, Siena really is my favorite town.
We wander our way down the streets and rendezvous at our gathering spot at the Piazza del Campo and then I take everyone to the Duomo which I think is the best church in Italy. I just love this place. I have been here at least a dozen times and I never get tired of seeing it again and again. Inside and outside it is beautiful. I need to spend more time here and climb the towers for the views that must be dramatic.
We then take in a little shopping with our walk back to the Piazza. All of my travelers slowly make their way back to our little spot a wonderful trattoria at the far northeast corner of the piazza affording us a beautriful view of the sunset over the tower of the duomo and highlightingall of the buildings that surround and embrace the Piazza del Campo – home of the famous horse race, the Palio, in August.
This year you could definitely feel the fall in the air and it was quite chilly so we dined inside and the spaghetti del carbonara was fantastic and top that off with a hot chocolate that is as thick as pudding. Not a bad finish to yet another beautiful day in Italy.