Sunday, November 20, 2005

Views of San Gimignano

We were a bit lazy today and didn't manage to get up as early as planned. We had decided the day before to visit both San Gimignano and Volterra in the one day, but since we never managed to leave the villa till around 11am we decided to visit only San Gimignano.

Unfortunately the weather was a little bit gloomy and rainy once again, but the drive from our villa to San Gimignano was full of beautiful views of rolling Tuscan countryside.

It took around an hour and a half to reach San Gimignano and before we arrived we caught a glimpse of the medieval towers on a hill in the distance.

San Gimignano is set on a 334m high hill and dates back to the 10th century. The town originally had 72 tower houses, some which were as high as 50 metres. These towers were a symbol of wealth and only 14 remain today.

Countryside near San Gimignano

The town is known as "San Gimignano delle belle Torri" and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

We spent a couple of hours just wandering aimlessly round the streets of San Gimignano and had an enjoyable time, despite the fact that for most of the time it was absolutely pouring with rain (see the photo below)

San Gimignano in the Rain

In the afternoon we climbed to the top of the Torre Grossa and were rewarded with amazing views of San Gimignano. Luckilly for me and my camera the rain had cleared up by this time and it turned into a beautiful sunny day. Here are some of the photos that I took from the top of the Torre Grossa:

View of the Piazza in San Gimignano from the top of the Tower

Above you can see a view of the Piazza in San Gimignano and below a view of one of the towers and the streets below.

View of San Gimignano

If you'd like to spend a little longer in San Gimignano you can read reviews of San Gimignano hotels and things to do in San Gimignano

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Villa in Vitolini

It didn't take long to get from Florence airport to our villa in Vitolini, near Vinci. The instructions were excellent and it took us just over an hour including a stop in the supermarket to stock up on all the essentials like food, water and of course some vino and a few beers.

The villa, called "Il Mulinetto del Lica" was gorgeous, set in a valley, surrounded by greenery with a lovely pool and sundeck. The inside of the villa was really modern and split on two levels with the kitchen and living room area on the ground floor and steps up to the bedroom area, which had a huge arched window looking out on to the countryside. There was also a door which led straight out to the pool area from the bedroom.

Bedroom of Il Mulinetto del Lica

The caretaker of the villa, Tina was really friendly and helpful. She spoke great English (luckily, as our Italian isn't up to much) and showed us around the place, then invited us to join her, the owner and a couple of others for a glass of wine and some bread and cheese, which was nice.

On Sunday we had a lazy day by the pool, relaxing in the sun, eating pizza, pasta, bread and olives and drinking Italian wine and beer.

Swimming Pool, Il Mulinetto del Lica

We both had a swim in the pool - our first and last swim of the holiday as it was absolutely freezing! I've been in cold pools before, but this one literally took your breath away.

Unfortunately we found that our location wasn't as perfect as we originally thought it was when we realised that the evening before both of us had been eaten alive by mosquitos.

For the remainder of our stay we burned mosquito coils, coated ourself in insect repellent from the late afternoon onwards and stayed inside as soon as the sun went down. At the end of the first few days I counted a total of 20 bites, including one that was almost the size of the palm of my hand on the back of my leg.

Despite the villa and the stting being absolutely lovely, this is one reason that I wouldn't come back again. I've travelled through areas in the world that have malaria, but never have I been bitten as much as I have this week. Arghhh! Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was more wet & humid in this area of Italy in September than usual and because it was in a valley surrounded by trees.

Kitchen, Il Mulinetto del Lica