(As I finish up my thesis this month, this blog will be temporarily transformed into Garlands in Florence with a guest blogger: my university-aged self. You will find posts about the summer I studied in Italy, living in a 16th century villa and falling in love with art history.)
We were going to San Gimignano for the day. We were right by the train station in Florence, and this clueless young couple, obviously in town just for the day, came up to us, and said, “Which way is it to the... stuff?” We pointed them towards the Duomo and wished them luck.
San Gimignano is a small medieval Tuscan hilltown famous for its medieval towers. All the old hilltowns used to have the towers, but they were removed as the towns modernized. San Gim never modernized. It was shocking to see it for the first time on the hilltop!
We walked in through the city gate. We left the walls and saw the incredible views (with nutella gelatos in hand).
We went to the Piazza Cisterna, with the well that collected the water from the rooftops, and sat on the neat church steps of the Piazza Duomo.
We went across the Piazza to climb the tower. There were lots of holes in the wall to put beams and scaffolding. At the top, we could hear a flutist and a didgeridoo, and a young man at the top pulled out a harmonica. We saw matching towers, and there was one chair on top of each. We were surrounded by Tuscan farmland: vineyards, olive trees, working countryside, patchwork. Breeze. Blue sky.
We walked over to the Rocco, a section of the city wall you can climb up surrounded by a park. We saw our second harpist of the day, olive trees and an outdoor movie theatre. There were millions of children everywhere. We heard, “Mama look at me!” in about five different languages. The view was incredible and the breeze was heavenly.
Next we went to the Cistern and to the World Champion Pluripremiata Gelateria. I had Champelmo: champagne and pompelmo (grapefruit), and rosemary and raspberry. Mom had eggnog, vinsanto, and amarena. We sat on the Cistern to enjoy our treats.
We walked to the vista from earlier and the locals came out. There was a woman gardening in a secret courtyard garden with a tomato path and vineyard. Two old women and two old men were sitting and talking. On a patio, an old man was reading and an old woman was sewing.
We went into a little restaurant with only seven tables for terrina di verdura, fagioli al “fiaseo”, raviole di zucchine al pomodoro fresco, taglionlini al pesto, and piazetta della Maddnus. After dinner, I also ran for a bottle of wine, as we couldn’t leave San Gimignano without Vernaccia!
In the bus back to Florence, post-sunset light hit everything, with a rainbow in the sky.