A new day and time for some exploring. Our fellow explorer will be our driver/guide Andrea. He was a perfect guide for us – easy going, versatile, knowledgeable and with a good sense of humor.
Andrea arrived at the hotel and off we went. Our first stop today would be the city of Siena. Along the way we had some beautiful scenery. Andrea was able to provide us with great information about the area and we talked about different places – some we’ve been to and others to put on our list.
After parking, we took an easy walk over to the Basilica Cateriniana Di San Domenico. Saint Catherine’s holy relics are kept there. In a small chapel they have a container with her head. I understand, but it’s still a little creepy.
Next we made our way over to the Cathedral of Siena. It’s beautiful on the outside and intriguing on the inside.
It was interesting to learn that after hundreds of years, scholars are still trying to understand the connection between some of the art pieces and the religious pieces. One thought is that the ‘Universal Truths’ or ‘Enlightenment’ is the connecting thread between all religions.
From there we made our way to the Campo. We were talking about how when we were here last, they were filming the James Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’. Andrea pointed out a few items to us and then capped it off with a photo.
Our next stop would be our wine tasting and lunch. We are going to “Casa Emma” where we will get a brief tour and then lunch with wine pairings.
The tour was interesting. We’ve seen many winery operations, but we had not seen the use of Terra Cotta aging vessels before. They also used some cement tanks in their processing. Their wines were good, but a little pricey. The pairings with the food were wonderful. We had a very nice time.
Upon leaving Casa Emma, we set sail for San Gimignano – the town of towers. The drive over was really beautiful- once again. We haven’t driven anywhere that wasn’t beautiful.
As we neared San Gimignano, Andrea made a turn and started driving in the opposite direction. He then pulled over after a short while and said this is one of the best views of the surrounding area. He was being truthful – wow!
For our excursion into town, Andrea would drop us off and then pick us up after a while. Sue and I were both getting a little tired, so we negotiated the time down to an hour. That would give us enough time to walk up to the main piazza and have a brief look around. So off we went.
San Gimignano was historically a strategic city during the wars between Siena and Florence. At one time there were seventy towers across town, only fourteen remain today. Anyone with wealth would build a tower and there was always competition between those loyal to the King and those loyal to the Pope.
The main street leading up through the city gate is narrow and somewhat winding. Branching off are streets that are steep and also narrow. We trekked up the main street until we reached the piazza and the twin towers. The piazza is so full of every day life along with tourists.
One of my favorite moments was when we came across a group of gentlemen just sitting and people watching, sharing a comment and a laugh with each other while the people walked by.
It was a nice visit to San Gimignano. We would definitely visit again if we were in the area.
So then it was back to the hotel. We once again were able to experience the winding mountain roads, but this time we added in rush hour traffic. We drove on, sharing experiences from the day with Andrea and getting his perspective on Italian life. It was really a great day.
We wished him well and then headed in to rest a bit before dinner. We were both a little tired and took short naps before heading down to dinner.
Dinner tonight is at the second of the two restaurants – Il Pievano. We didn’t know what to expect, but were pleasantly surprised. Besides the ala carte menu, they had three tasting menus – Mrs Jekyll, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The two Jekyll menus were five courses and the Mr Hyde was a ten course menu.
Our choice was the Dr Jekyll. Five courses and all delicious. We went with the wine pairing which gave us a different wine with each course.
Hey, that’s only four courses. Yep, I ate my soup before I remembered the picture. Everything was delicious. We enjoyed the wines and our servers were so much fun. Nothing stuffy about this one star Michelin restaurant.
We were sated and we were tired. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will pep us up for tomorrow.