Day 13: San Gimignano

We’re still in Tuscany today, and Italy is still celebrating Easter with a Monday holiday so it was crowded everywhere we went. Today we were in San Gimignano (say “jimin-yano”), a medieval town with 13 bell towers and an 8th-century skyline. I’m sort of fresco-ed out and medieval-ed out and, believe it or not, gelato-ed out.

So after a huffing-puffing walking tour of the city up the steep hills, it felt really nice to sit down in a restaurant that featured (I’m still pinching myself): Belgian beer. Really! Italy is not known for its beer selection (Peroni, Moretti) so it was really exciting to see something else. And the restaurant was so much fun… our guide Mauro took a few of us with him, and it was a real hole-in-the-wall, down a dark alley. Never would have found the place in a million years. The owner was a hoot, the food (a huge bruschetta with mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes) was great, and they played Dire Straits and  Creedence Clearwater Revival the whole time we were there. Not only did we sing along, we might have gotten up and danced if there had been room. (That’s me with the owner.)

After San Gimignano, we went to the Tenute Niccolai winery for a wonderful tour and tasting, complete with delicious pecorino sheep’s milk cheese and olive oil. We tasted a Chianti Reserve since we’re in the Chianti region, plus a Brunello di Montalcino and a lovely Vernaccia Santa Chiara.

And while we were there, the skies opened up and poured. We had thunder, some small hail, and just a great downpour while we were sitting in the tasting room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Romantic! By the time we walked back to the bus, the rain had stopped and it was about 20 degrees cooler. My power to control the weather never ceases to amaze me.

I’m packing tonight because we’re leaving in the morning for Venice!

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