San Gimignano medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy

 San Gimigiano Tuscany Italy
The foundation of San Gimignano (San Gimignano delle belle Torri) dates back to ancient times. According to legend, in 63 B.C. two brothers, Muzio and Silvio, two young patricians escaping from Rome after their implication in the conspiracy of Catiline, sheltered in Valdelsa and built two castles: the Castle of Mucchio and the Castle of Silvia, which would develop in the future San Gimignano.
We arrived to San Gimignano in early September 2014. One of the worst summers as they told us on arrival. It was mostly wet mornings and sunny afternoons, but the views and delicious food made up for the weather.
Residenza D'Epoca Palazzo BuonaccorsiWe stayed in Residenza D’Epoca Palazzo Buonaccorsi. A double room overlooking inner courtyard. Palazzo Buonaccorsi is an ancient building (XIII century) in the historical centre just 50mt from the gate San Matteo. We drove in to the city to unpack our luggage and then guided by the hospitable receptionist found a free parking outside the walls of old town.
San Gimignano is famous for its skyline of its medieval towers, of the 72 towers in the fourteenth century, only 14 remain. In 1990 the town was also registered in the list of UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage. San Gimignano is surrounded by gorgeous countryside dotted with vineyards and olive groves. The main typical products of this land are fine wines, such as Vernaccia di San Gimignano, and saffron, that are produced here since medieval times.
Enjoy the first glimpses of the city, I will have more :)
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San Gimignano Tuscany Italy
San gimignano Italy Tuscany
Italy tuscany

Saturnia Tuscany’s natural hot springs

Thermes Saturnia Italy

At first we saw it from a far. Completely unexpected in the middle of slightly hilly landscape, there it was, silver-blue cascade of water.  One thing I can tell you it stinks! Horribly! And it doesn’t go away!

Saturnia, Tuscany, Italy

Saturnia takes its name from the Roman god Saturn. Legend has it that he grew tired of the constant wars of humans, and sent a thunderbolt to earth that created a magic spring of warm sulphurous water which would pacify mankind.

Saturnia, Tuscany, Italy

The sulphurous spring water, at a temperature of 37.5 °C, are well known for their therapeutic properties. The yield of the source is about 800 liters per second. The chemical make-up is sulfur, carbon, sulfate, bicarbonate-alkaline, with the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas and carbon dioxide.

Saturnia, Italy

The entrance is for free, shower costs EUR1 per person and it’s plenty of water. I could smell the therms on me even on the next day after 30 mins of soaking myself in soap ;)

Pitigliano, Tuscany, Italy

What I was really looking forward to in Italy was food. I love pastas, coffee, wine, tiramisu, frutti di mare, Bruschettas, pizzas, oil of olive, olives, cheese, garlic, prosciutto, smoked and cured meats… I could go on and on.

We all know Italian food is not the same outside Italy. We also know Italian food in Italy where tourists are is mostly crap and we only got tricked once.

We landed in Rome at a wrong time. Lunch time. Just as we found our Rent-A-Car called Hertz, packed up and left the bypass of Rome it was too late to get anything to eat. We were not easily defeated, mind we didn’t have anything to eat since 8 or 9am in Greece. On our journey we even found this amazingly located restaurant on a shore of a lake which would be so nice to eat in. This is the view:

Italy lake in TuscanyThe lake is called Lago Di Bracciano, the restaurant Alfredo and the town Lungolago if I found the right place on google maps.

We lingered on but they wouldn’t even tell us when the restaurant will be opened. By, by lake, time to head on.

We found our apartment without much trouble. Just asked at the gas station for directions. Then waited for the owner to come with the keys. The moment we put our bags inside we were on the way to get some food. Still to early…

We had to see the whole city before restaurants started to open, but when they did we made sure we chose the right one!

Locanda del Pozzo Antico. Trattoria. A trattoria is an Italian-style eating establishment, less formal than a ristorante, but more formal than an osteria. There are generally no printed menus, the service is casual, wine is sold by the decanter rather than the bottle, prices are low, and the emphasis is on a steady clientele rather than on haute cuisine. The food is modest but plentiful (mostly following regional and local recipes) and in some instances is even served family-style (i.e. at common tables).

So now you know: plenty of good food and low prices – TRATTORIA.

pizzaYum Yum

I had calzone with porcini mushrooms which were in season then. Yum, yum.

The other thing I love about Italy is the cul-de-sacs. Narrow alleys with washing hanging outside the windows. Planted flowers and plants. Quiet, yet in the centres of towns, cities. Occupied by nonne e nonni, talking, playing cards or knitting. Now is the part with too many pictures, but there will be text at the end of it so pay attention!

I love street life of Italy after the dark in summer. The heat eases and people come to life. The energy of chatter is vibrant and energizing. Pitigliano was very quite in the evenings comparing to what I would experience in other places on my previous visits. Still we at least got a glimpse of it.

I love the cute tiny cars which can park anywhere. Lovely design.

And my favorite picture:

Oh and the funny bit:

We were looking to have breakfast somewhere in centro historico. Difficult again. You know how they have sweet things in the morning with espresso? We wanted a proper sandwich before our journey to therms (next post). In the end we found a place where we were the only customers. And ordered latte, cappuccino, cornetto con cioccolato and a sandwich. Hahhahhaa and A got foamed milk!

latte – milk

cafe latte – coffee with milk

Donna was surprised but cliente è re so he got his milk hahahhaha. All three of us had a good laugh to start the day. Now enter the four grumpy old Italian men. We spent the breakfast listening to Italian conversation and songs from the 80’s. Loved it.

Pitigliano, province of Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy 2014

Pitigliano, province of Grosseto, Italy 2014Pitigliano, a small Italian town, located south of Florence and North of Rome is perched atop a tufa ridge. Etruscan tombs dot the cliff face and valley. The zone is known as the land of the Bianco di Pitigliano, one of the best white wines of Italy. The quaint old town is known as the little Jerusalem.

The name Pitigliano, would seem to have been derived from Petilia, an important Roman family who gave their own name to various places. According to an ancient legend, the town was founded by two Romans: Petilio and Celiano: the name of Pitigliano would have been derived by the combination of their names.

There’s no train station in town but buses serve Pitigliano from other cities and towns in Tuscany, including Siena, Florence, and Grosseto. The town itself is small enough to walk around easily. A car is useful for touring the countryside.

We stayed at La Dolce Vita. A studio apartment outside centro historico. It was a studio apartment converted from the garage. Had too much of a basement feeling, but the radio in the shower was great and the bed super comfy! There are other types of apartments available so go for it. It’s a short walk away from the town centre but we didn’t mind. 

The main sights:

  1. Fortezza Orsini
  2. Palazzo Orsini
  3. Le Vie Cave
  4. Il Ghetto
  5. Gli Archi dell’Acquedotto Mediceo
  6. Cattedrale SS Pietro e Paolo

The first part of the gallery you will find below but I will devote another post to Pitigliano with the things I loved about the town. Enjoy!



Ireland – Greece – Italy September 2014

Here is the overview of my last trip. We flew from Dublin to London Stansted and after a night spent there flew to Thessaloniki in Greece. We were to attend a wedding in Afitos. After a couple of days we flew from Thessaloniki to Rome and rented a car. This time we decided not to spend each night in a different place but to stay put and do day trips if any. Our first night in Italy we spent in Pitigliano and the remaining three in San Gimignano.
Overview of the route

More details coming up in the next post!