Sunday, June 5, 2016

Siena and San Gimignano, Tuscany

On my last full day in Italy, we got out of Florence and went around the countryside in Tuscany. As if it couldn't get any better, it did. We headed out early and went straight to Siena. I think it took less than an hour by bus. It was actually a really long walk from where we unloaded to the city center.

The city/town is like something out of a fairy tale. There are tiny little streets with quaint little shops going up and down hills. It's really so unbelievable.

This is the Piazza del Campo where they hold a horse race every year.

The duomo in Siena was spectacular. It's not quite as big as the one in Florence and its colors are the white and black stripes. I didn't take pictures of the inside because it just wouldn't do it justice, but there were all kinds of ornamentation and vignette's of biblical stories. I find that I rarely take a lot of pictures on the last day I am somewhere different. I think I know that my time there is coming to an end and so I just want to be in the moment and not worry about capturing everything in pictures. There were all kinds of scary-looking busts of prominent clergy and influential men at the top of one wing.

After walking around there we had a little bit of time to explore the city. It seriously feels like you are in Pinocchio or Beauty and the Beast or something. After that we went to a local Tuscan farm for lunch. We had this outdoor farm lunch with views of the Tuscan hillside. Again, it was like something out of a movie. The farm makes olive oil and wine and we were able to try all of it. From the farm we could see the medieval town of San Gimignano, where the movie Tea with Mussolini took place.

After lunch we took a tour of the farm and some puppies were following us around. We got to see some cows and the wine barrels.

Some of the group wanted to stay and relax at the farm and the rest of us went on to San Gimignano. I wasn't going to miss it and I'm glad that I didn't. The little town is so cute with a lot of pedestrian streets. It's all on the hilltop with a bunch of towers. We climbed up to the top of one and it was just a spectacular view. In the middle of town, there was a gelateria that has won awards for its gelato and apparently has the world's best. The winning flavor was pistachio, so that's what I had. It was amazing. It was actually the only time ever in my life that I have had gelato and it was to die for.

We made it back to Florence by the time it was dark. We ate dinner on the street at a little place about 2 doors down from the hotel. It was a great meal just like all the others earlier in the week and it was the last time I was going to see everyone since they were all leaving early the next morning. I left the next day too but later in the morning. I was very sad to say goodbye to my new friends and to Italy, but it was time to go home.

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