August 14 – Since I didn’t make it in time for the Welcome reception I didn’t see any familiar faces. It turns out that had more to do with there being a separate breakfast room they were meeting so I suppose I wouldn’t have recognized anyone anyway. I knew we were to meet in the lobby for a half day of roaming the Tuscan countryside and I was excited! I introduced myself to our host, Giulia, and several of the other guests before boarding the bus.
Our first stop was San Gimignano, a small walled medieval hill town known as the Town of Fine Towers. The guide walked us to the town center and shared some of the towns history and noted a few places of interest. We paused on the steps of the Duomo for a group picture then were set free to explore the city on our own.
It had everything I envisioned a Tuscan village to have. Grand medieval architecture, small shops lining the streets, old men sitting on the stoop watching the tourists scurry from place to place.
My first stop was the hat shop! The sun was bright and I thought a straw hat may breath a little better than the “outback” style hat I’d been sporting. I was pleased to find one big enough to fit over my thick skull and thicker hair.
I wandered aimlessly through the narrow streets and up the hill to get a good view of the countryside. I was not disappointed. I made my way back to the town center and down some of the side streets, slowly returning to our meeting point.
We boarded the bus and were on our way to Fattoria il Pelagio, a family run Tuscan winery. Lush, rolling hills dotted with Cypress trees kept me in awe as the bus navigated the narrow roadway. As we made our way to the winery on one side were rows upon rows of grapes, the other side rows upon rows of olive trees. Absolutely perfect!
We arrived at the winery where we were accompanied by the owner, Gaetano Zonin, as we took a tour of the production facilities. After checking out the casks we made our way back to the main building and settled in for lovely wine and food tasting. Chianti, cheese, and prosciutto, what more can a girl ask for??
After several hours of wine tasting, snacks, and conversation we were back on the bus, making a short stop at Monteriggioni on our way back to Siena. It was another big hill to climb but worth the effort to see this quaint walled village. It doesn’t take long to walk the length of the walls. With time to spare I opted to get some gelato. Perfect choice for cooling off in the scorching heat.
Back in Siena we had the evening to do as we wished. A group of us decided to try a restaurant that had been recommended by our host. I surprised myself by not going with the easy stand-by of a fairly predictable pasta dish and instead tried Wild Boar. I was not disappointed. It was marinated and cooked to perfection. I was so pleased.
In the midst of the meal I accidentally pushed my cell phone off the table and on to the tiled floor. Oh man! The screen is completely shattered. But it WORKS! What a relief! Any other day that probably would have ruined my mood but I was having such a great time I didn’t really care.
With dinner complete most of the group decided to go down to the plaza but I was ready to get a shower and relax a bit before bed. Of course I could not resist the gelato stand on the way back to the hotel and I stopped for a second round of gelato.