Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
Oct. 12, 2010
My wife’s cousin Andrea and his wife Suzi came by just before 9am to take us all to San Gimignano (pronounced Jimi-nia-no) -a medieval city, world-renown for its towers. What started as a village in the 3rd century BC, one of the castle areas was renamed to San Gimignano in 450AD, after Bishop Geminianus prevented its destruction by Attila the Hun’s followers.
On the way there, we stopped on the side of the road to take in the view, and steal -err find and taste some grapes from one of the local vineyards. Now I’m not a chick-flick kind of guy, but I admit that I did enjoy the movie ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ when it came out. It’s one thing watching it on the big screen; it’s another to actually experience it.
Some interesting tidbit about San Gimignano and why it’s known for its towers: From the year 1199, each wealthy family there showed off their wealth by outbuilding the other family’s tower -this actually went on for centuries. From over 70 towers, there are now 14 left. An amazing site. A must see!
Once through the main gate, I couldn’t help myself do a quick stop and have my first authentic Italy-made pizza. Maybe it was all my senses firing up from being there, but it was the best I’ve ever had! Catching up to the group, I had fun with Andrea -I seem to have a lot in common with him and his antics.
We went to the top of one of the towers to take in the incredible view of the surrounding Tuscan wine country. It all seemed surreal to be there, to see all this -the rolling hills with its vineyards, the villages with their red-clay rooftops on every other hilltop, all under the clear blue skies.
What truly fascinated me was that as ancient as all these buildings and towers are in the middle of a walled castle, they are all still being used today -as homes, stores, restaurants, and public restrooms.
For lunch, we stopped at a modern restaurant inside the medieval facade. I treated the group as a way to show my appreciation. I had to, this place was amazing! While we were eating, Suzi seemed very interested in what kind of seafood I liked or didn’t like -I guess she was told, or warned rather, of how finicky I can be when it comes to fish, since they have plans to have us over for dinner on Thursday. As we headed to the car, I couldn’t help notice a store at the town square. On one of the bottom shelves, sitting on its own, a black-felt hat with a striped band caught my eye. I smiled as it fit perfectly. I had to buy it!
On the way back, Andrea and Suzi dropped us off at my wife’s other aunt and uncle, Isolina and Antonio, for a special dinner. She really outdid it! And I think I impressed them by how much I can eat. Course after course was served. Antipasto, two different kinds of pastas, a variety of meats, lots of drinks, and of course, dessert and espresso.