I first saw San Gimignano on the cover of my DK Italy guide book. It being my first trip abroad I would consult the guide for vague help before arriving somewhere new. When I realized how close it was to Florence I knew I would have to make a day trip. It is a Medieval town with fourteen towers built by competing families. Dante had visited this town as well as the Plague reducing the population in 1348. The town’s roots, on the other hand, can be traced back to 200-300 BC. I found all this out after I had visited the picturesque village that sits upon a Tuscan hill top surrounded by dusty green olive trees and vineyards.
I had arrived around 11 am so I was ready for a treat of cappuccino and pastries, a typical breakfast/brunch for me during my stay in Italy. Immediately to my right, upon entering the city walls there is a charming cafe with a jolly woman who serves eat customer with a smile and some sweet treats. Each cappuccino comes with a creamy chocolate as well.
If you ever feel as though you need a break from the hustle of cities such as Rome, Florence or Venice, Tuscany is the ideal place to get back to nature. San Gimignano especially is a great hiking town if you are willing to leave the centre and explore. After visiting the touristy places within the town of San Gimignano I was led to a crumbled portion of the old city wall. There were also ruins engulfed within the landscape. I had beat most of the tourist busses that were rushing to get to a look out point and climbed to the top where I saw rolling green hills and little red terracotta roof tops.
Even though San Gimignano calls to tourists and those looking to get away from all that, it was an unforgettable town. Each building and street held some unique architectural detail or an odd specialty shop that I just had to stop, look and finally take a photo of.
It became a tourist trap in the later afternoon around 1pm but the impending storm made for shorter visits and the exploring became a much more intimate experience.
Eventually I realized that not even I could withstand the storm pregnant with black clouds and some of the largest hail I have ever seen. We hastily piled into a cab which in hindsight was a mistake due to the ridiculous prices they charge to get to and from Florence. I would suggest that I try to stay the night or perhaps for dinner and arrange for a more suitable way to get back by bus. I can only imagine that the buzz of tourist quiets to a hum at night while the street lamps glow gold off of the cobblestones.