120511 San Gimignamo – Florence 11 May Friday

Today, we find ourselves in the delightful region of Tuscany.  As we have stayed overnight at a Winery, the scenery is just what you always dreamt that Italy is; blue skies, neat farmland that is green as far as the eye can see.  The bus takes us to the small walled village of San Gimignano nearby.  You can only walk into the village, as the streets are so narrow, there is no way the coach could maneuver around the corners.

Brick-paved in a herringbone pattern, Piazza della Cisterna is the first of two adjoining squares forming the city’s central region.  13th century towers border the squares.  Just a dozen remain of the original 70.  The town’s tallest surviving tower is 54 m high.

We climb the tallest tower up many stairs to view Tuscany in full view.  The green farmland goes on forever to the rolling hills in the distance.  This morning is a great morning to do this as the air is clear and the sun is warming.  There are many quaint shops here too.  The region, including Florence, is known for good Italian leather ware.  Lyn buys a brilliant blue handbag and an orange hand purse and a purple coin purse.  I pick up a wallet that has 21 spots for cards.  All for very good prices – we believe.  It is not good, looking for something you have recently purchased, as it just could be cheaper.  While in the leather shop, a girl started hugging Lyn.  It turns out that she is from Silvan and goes to Curves gym at Wandin where Lyn went for a while – and she and her husband, didn’t book at the world’s greatest travel agency.

There has been an interesting sculptor in town, an Englishman.  His statutes are of himself in the nude, and Lyn goes to welcome him into the village.  There are quite a number of these statues around and it takes her quite a while – lol.

We move on to a farm to have lunch.  It is famous for wine making and olive oil.  Everything is grown organically and the family of owners are very proud of their products – good wine and olive oil.

After lunch, we make our way to Florence, just 40 km up the highway.  Before we can enter the city center, we need to buy a permit for the bus to take us there; a ritual it seems.  The authorities will not issue permits until the foreigners have actually arrived in the area – no internet pre-bookings allowed.  It costs 150 Euros just to take us in and pick us up in two days time.

We arrive at The Helvetia & Bristol Hotel just two blocks from the main city square.  The rest of the afternoon and evening is free time so Lyn and I take a walk around the ‘up-market’ shops to look for a smart leather coat.  If we don’t like anything in the shop, I say to the shopkeeper, “We are looking for a bright pink coat”, and they understand why we are leaving.

The city square looks like a good place to have a bite to eat and we find a café looking out onto the square and we are ‘front’ row’ table.  There is a jazz trio playing just across from us and we purchase a CD to use in the DVD we make on our return home.  This is so relaxing – why isn’t every day on tour like this?

It looks like tonight is an early night and we are in bed by 9:30pm after doing the laundry.

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