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The adventures of the Mel

Misty San Gimignano

ITALY | Wednesday, 6 October 2010 | Views [586] | Comments [2]

San Gimignano (Or St. Jimmy’s as we have termed it) is a gorgeous town about 30 km northwest of Siena.  It is famous for its towers – Of the original 72 towers built in the middle ages in a ‘mine is bigger/prettier/more manly than yours’ contest by the feuding nobles, 14 or 15 (depending on which book you read) still stand and consequently the town is often described as ‘Medieval Manhattan’.  It is one of the most popular day trips in Italy, its population of roughly 7500 usually dwarfed by tourists.

We caught an early morning bus and prepared ourselves for the tourist onslaught when we arrived – and were very pleasantly surprised. There was barely a soul around! This may be because it was still early (we arrived around 9:30 am), or because the weather was ‘less than ideal’. I guess it depends on your perspective though. The town was blanketed in a rich fog which certainly made it difficult to see anything more than 10 metres away, but it gave the town a beautifully mystical sensation that was instantly appealing to the both of us <Insert witty joke about mist/mystical here>.

We wandered around the streets, which although very similar to other Tuscan towns we have visited, had a lovely tranquillity about them that we were not expecting. We thought we’d be fighting our way through tourists and getting impatient with SLR toting douchebags. Not so! We almost had the town to ourselves, at least for the first hour or so.

We ended up wandering into a park and strolled around there for a while, which was lovely and calming. After we had seen essentially the whole town we sat ourselves down on the internet and I finally got to update this freaking blog! Woohoo! An hour later and we ventured out into the town again to find that the mist had cleared and the tourists (thought still not as plentiful as we had envisioned) had arrived. We could now clearly see the towers, and aside from being novel, they weren’t anything spectacular. We almost wanted the fog to come back. Well, apart from the bright blue sky and warm toasty sun, that is. We did some more wandering in the lovely autumn sun and sat outside the local church, watching we first thought was a bride, but soon became apparent that it was a model. Either that or a bridezilla like no bride has been zilla before.

Unfortunately we realised that because it was a Saturday that the last bus out (well, aside from one at 7:30 pm) was at 1:30 pm, so we had to leave St. Jimmy’s well before we were ready. Annoying. On the bright side, we ended up taking a bus on a school route which meant that we toured around the countryside and we got to see parts of the area that wouldn’t have otherwise. Upon our return we decided to go and look at the interior of Siena’s Duomo. We paid 10 for a ticket that encompassed the cathedral, the baptistery, the crypt and the museum, which was pretty good value considering that it costs €6 just to go inside the cathedral.

The interior of the cathedral is similar to its exterior – zebra stripes cover the majority of the gothic church, with a beautiful blue ceiling that evokes a distant memory of the Notre Dame. There is a ‘suggested itinery’ for you to follow so that you get to see all the roped off sections of marbled floor and small rooms. One small room contains large hand painted hymn books from however many centuries ago, which are quite pretty to look at. All in all, the interior is well worth the look as it is quite different to other churches that you see.

After gazing around at the church we headed into the museum. Unfortunately the heathen in me found pretty much everything in the museum pretty darn boring, but the real reason that we went in there was for the panoramic view at the top. We had to wait about 20 minutes (better than the advertised 45) to climb up the vertigo inducing stone spiral staircase and get up to the very top. From here was an amazing view of Siena in its entirety; look down at the people milling about in Il Campo, across over the orange staccato residential mass and then across to the Duomo itself. You only had 20 minutes up there – I thought it would be more than enough time but we didn’t leave much before it! It was quite pleasant up there, aside from being really freaking high up.

Afterwards we went to the crypt (really boring) and then to the baptistery which was not dissimilar to the cathedral in style, but much, much smaller. They were even kind enough to provide mirrors on the seats so that you could look at the ceilings without straining your neck.

From here we popped into the tourist office to collect some timetable information and then we decided that we might walk home. By decided what I actually mean is that the buses had all stopped running because it was a Saturday and we had no other choice. Aaaargh. On the bright side, it was only an hour and a half from the city centre and it was good exercise.

When we finally got home we essentially had dinner and fell into bed. Today is another rest day – a chance to catch up again on postings and will now probably tidy my stuff up. Tomorrow we are hoping to nick into the Chianti region and following that we will head into Florence. Hopefully we will have better access to the internet in Florence. Hopefully.

Until then folks, enjoy!


San Gimignano photos




It looks cool - was it cold?

  Peter Oct 7, 2010 6:50 PM


Okay. I officially want to go to Tuscany now, damn you.

  Sally Oct 11, 2010 8:08 PM

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