After earning our chefs’ certificates at the cooking lesson (followed by a quick nap at the hotel to recover from our food comas!) we took an optional excursion to San Gimignano, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Italy’s oldest and most well-preserved medieval towns.
Perched atop the rolling Tuscan hillsides, San Gimignano is a charming village originally built before Christ, with cobblestone streets that twist and turn, each lined with little shops and eateries leading to the town square.
Here our Travel Director Giuseppe treated us all to gelato at Gelateria Dondoli which has been awarded “world’s best gelato.” On the wall is a picture of actress Maggie Smith with the shop owner from her time there filming ‘Tea with Mussolini’. The exclusive saffron cream gelato is simply heavenly!
Continuing upward we climbed to the top of one of the remaining towers. It was well worth the hike, for at the top we were rewarded with the most incredible 360° views of the village below and surrounding Tuscan countryside. Our best view of Tuscany yet!
Giuseppe pointed out a hidden doorway which hides another beautiful view down onto the village and sweeping vistas of countryside beyond. Stunning! Another treasure we may not have stumbled upon without the help of our TD.
Back at our hotel in the little medieval village, Colle Di Val D’Elsa, we set off on our own for a sunset walk, exploring its ancient winding alleyways and enjoying aromas of garlic and tomatoes wafting from the apartments above. Did we just walk back in time?
Colle Di Val D’Elsa was built as a fortress to protect the territories of Siena from rivalries between the surrounding cities but today, with almost no one on the streets but us, offers a quiet respite.
Off to bed to be on the road tomorrow.
Lauren & Linda signing out…Ciao baby!