Tuscany Journals

Tuscany: A Lazier Pace of Life

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A July 2000 trip to Tuscany by Kontesssa

Quote: I HAD to take a break from the madhouse that is the Florence-Venice-Rome triangle. And Tuscany was the place to do it - two days in San Gimignano and another two in Siena.

Tuscany: A Lazier Pace of Life

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Overview

Quote:
The magnificent views of the rolling sun-drenched Tuscan hills, the many vineyards, the medieval stone buildings, the Il Palio in Siena, and last but not the least, the GELATI. Quick Tips: Eat lots and lots of gelati. Take romantic evening strolls on the cobblestone lanes of the town. Watch glorious sunsets while sharing a bottle of wine. Catch the Il Palio in Siena. Best Way To Get Around: The towns are very well connected by bus. Remember to buy the ticket BEFORE boarding. They are usually sold in tabacci stores and at tourist information offices. Validate your ticket once you board the bus. Within the towns, walking is the best bet. Since these are hilltowns, expect some uphills a...Read More

Podere Santa Elena

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Hotel

Quote:
It was our guardian angel that led us to the Santa Elena. We were looking for a place to stay INSIDE the walls of San Gimignano. However, everything was booked solid. But, a lady I was talking to on the phone, Barbara, suggested another place OUTSIDE the city walls as her hotel inside the walls were fully booked. We were desperate so we took it. Barbara picked us up from the gates and drove us to her guesthouse in her jeep. Stunning views. From our ultra-luxurious room, you can see the towers of San Gimignano all lit up at night. The rooms are SUPER beautiful - decorated to the max, double bed with rich brocaded sheets, an antique dresser, a TV, an armchair, gorgeous shower, tiled terra cotta floors -...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2000

Podere Santa Elena

Tuscany, Italy

Quote:
The BEST gelati I've ever tasted in Italy was here in San Gimignano. I liked it better than the ones I tried in Florence. It's located in Piazza della Cisterna. Directions: Approaching the piazza from the main gate, it's on the LEFT-hand side. It's small, award-winning, chockful of different flavours. My favorite one is banana, watermelon, and the creamy dolce amaro. Yummy. There's also another gelateria in Piazza della Cisterna - this one is on the immediate RIGHT-hand side as you approach from the same direction. I didn't like this one as much, but it's fairly decent.

Get your gelati and eat it sitting down on the steps of the cisterna.

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 2, 2000

A Gelateria in Piazza della Cisterna
Piazza della Cisterna, 4
Tuscany, Italy
0577-942244

Historic Centre of Siena

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Attraction | "Siena's Il Palio"

Quote:
Siena's Il Palio is THE festival in Tuscany. It's held twice per year. We went to the July 2 festival. The Palio is mainly a bareback horserace by ten representatives of ten different 'contradas' or 'districts' in Siena. There are no rules - you can whip your opponent, slam into them, tickle their horse, whatever. The aim is to careen around the Campo three times, and whoever wins gets the 'palio' or 'banner,' and - more importantly - BRAGGING RIGHTS for the year. Many practice races are held in the days leading up to the Palio. Siena itself comes alive with many outdoor parties, midnight revelries, and rowdy chants of parading youth, cheering for their contradas. This is not an activity concocte...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2000

Historic Centre of Siena

Siena, Tuscany

Historic Centre of Siena

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Attraction | "Il Palio Part II"

Quote:
The trial races on the days leading up to July 2 are heavily attended as well. To get to the Campo, either follow the many signs, or simply follow the crowds. Expect security to be tight. Siena's Campo is one of the most beautiful squares I've ever seen - there is something very serene and harmonious about it, inspite of the fact that it's a crazy madhouse when we were there. Feel free to sit on the bleachers. On the day of the race, these bleachers are NOT free, and often have to be reserved. But go for them during the trial races. Or, you can choose to park yourself within the fan-shaped area of the Campo, and see the action up-close. Out of the 17 contradas in Siena, only 10 get to race. After the ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 2, 2000

Historic Centre of Siena

Siena, Tuscany

Medieval San Gimignano

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Story/Tip

Quote:
San Gimignano used to be a pretty powerful town in Tuscany. It used to be a major cloth producer, which explains the many towers inside the city walls. Long time ago, cloth would be hung from these towers. Nowadays, only about thirteen towers remain. San Gimignano is a hilly town, lots of uphill and downhill cobblestone roads. But don't let this deter you. Part of the fun of exploring the town is getting yourself lost. Far from the main piazzas, you'll see the real San Gimignano - quiet, residential, and all so charmingly REAL. During the day, the town is attacked by visiting daytrippers. They swarm around the Piazza della Cisterna (where the well is) and the Piazza della Duomo (where the church...Read More

Why You Shouldn't Lose Your Camera Here

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Of all the places I could have lost my beloved Pentax camera - why did it have to be small-town Italy, on a Saturday night, before a Sunday that was a major festival? Needless to say, I never did find my camera again. I was on the bus from Siena to San Gimignano. My camera was in a shopping bag, along with a pair of slacks I bought. I hung it on the bus armrest, and of course, promptly FORGOT about it. After about ten minutes in San Gimigano, I realized my dumb mistake. If you lose something, the best bet would be to go to the Tourist Office in San Gimignano and have THEM call around for you. Most people in small-town Italy - those who are not associated with the tourist trade - do N...Read More