Saturday, June 26, 2010

San Gimignano

Gimme More "San Gimi"

It was April 21,
2007 when I first heard the name "San Gimi-

I was standing in Monterosso, Italy and had just met a nice couple from Florida, "Tannia" and "Don," who gave two thumbs up for a visit to San Gimignano. I quickly scribbled "hill town with lots of towers ~ day trip" in my journal. Looking back at my notes, I see now I've misspelled its name, compliments of two extra letters.

Flash forward three years and I find my feet square in the heart of Tuscany in this wonderfully walled village well-worth the fantastic drive getting there.

Saying "San Gimignano" can give your tongue a workout and so, too, can the streets of this wonderfully hilly hilltop town with origins dating back to the 3rd century BC. Ciò è vecchio!

Like a medieval version of Dallas, this Tuscan "tower power" still boasts 14 of the original 72 towers that were built back in the day. Totally amazing.

Suggested Stay:

A minimum of one full day. No less. This is Italy. What's the rush?

Getting to S. Gimi:

We drove the beautiful countryside to San Gimi from our week-long villa rental stay in S. Albino. We arrived from the south, passing the outskirts of Siena. From San Gimi, we stopped in Siena but suggest allowing more time to tip your hat to both as we felt a bit rushed to squeeze them in same day.

Must See | Do :

The Historic Centre ~
This spot makes the Top 10 shortlist as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it contains a series of masterpieces of 14th- and 15th-century Italian art in their original architectural settings (read all about 'em).

I wore a new, uber-luggage-pressed-just-unpacked all-white shirt, thinking I was molto Italiano. So, too, did the bird who pooped on my shirt of white a few brief moments walking after into the towering village! If you know of the Italian lore of a bird pooping on you being "good luck," please email me at with details. After a brief retreat into a paid public restroom, the stain was still there in full force, although my attempts and hopes to remove it... not so much.

La Botegga del Sale ~ Piazza del Duomo, 13 ~ The sun never shined brighter than that day (6.26.10) and we ducked into a small art shop to enjoy the air conditioning and have a look-see of photo prints selling for about 20 € each. I forget how hot it was outside as I finger flipped through stacks of brightly colored photos of San Gimi and the neighboring Tuscan countryside. Red poppies. Graceful hills. Sheep herds. Stately Italian Cypress. I find it impossible to pick just one, so I leave with four. "Right sizing."

I think to myself... "what a lucky guy Duccio Nocci is... to garner a living capturing stills of the Italian vistas." His art auto-sells itself to flocks of tourists yearning for mementos honoring this great part of Planet Earth. You can catch a view of Duccio's fotografie online here.

The San Gimignano Vernaccia Musuem ~ While walking the streets of San Gimi we learn that "Vernaccia" ~ of one Italy's oldest DOCG wines dating back to 1200 ~ is made here. Unlike the nearby Tuscan red of Montepulciano, Vernaccia grapes are white and their roots hail from Liguria. "Fruity and flowery." More Vernaccia wine facts are available here for you budding sommeliers.

At the top of what seemed the highest land in the village, we discovered the Vernaccia Museum and while we skipped the tour, we were quick to enjoy our Vernaccia table side while also drinking-in the fantastic views from atop the towered city. I was really glad we visited La Botegga del Sale (above) *prior* to enjoying the museum's wine... else I fear I would have parted San Gimi, buying even more photographs!

Trattoria Borgo di Racciano ~ Two new friends of For The Love Of Italy "Robin" and "Kim" wrote to us and raved about the lasagna here. Anyone for a stroll? The trattoria is located just 1 km (about 1/2 a mile) from S. Gimi and tops our list for our return visit. Visit Racciano online.

Hotel Pescille ~
Robin stayed here and declared this place "a MUST" for anyone traveling to San Gimi country. On site, there's a wine shop, vineyard and an olive grove, but no restaurant. Luckily the onsite swimming pool, hot tub and tennis courts make-up for that. Robin noted that "Some of my best pictures from the trip were taken right from my balcony." Sold! Make sure and reserve a room with a view of the towers of San Gimi when booking online. You're in Italy!

After an early afternoon San Gimi gelato, we Texas two-stepped it back to our car to carefully navigate the twisty turns toward Siena. And with just hours away from Siena's famed Palio horse race, this was going to prove a top moment in my life. "A life changer," as my friend Kassi would declare.

Check out our Flickr photos, with more detail on beautiful San Gimi!

Our next stop? Sensational Siena!

for the love of : italy

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