San Gimignano, Italia

July 23, 2012

After Siena, we made a brief stop in San Gimignano. This small medieval town is located on top of a hill with stunning views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside. The city is walled and the outskirts comprised mainly of vineyards and olive groves. Another picturesque Tuscan town.

Our brief stop in San Gimignano did not offer time enough for a meal, but after strolling through the main street we stopped at Gelateria di Piazza for some award winning gelato. Across the square, competition nearly fooled us with another gelato place with signs outside stating best gelato in the world. A long line of people fooled waited outside.

penandfork.com

Penandfork.com

Siena, Italia

July 23, 2012

Arriving at Siena mid morning allowed us only a few hours to stroll through the streets and shops of this charming, hilly city. Certainly not enough time to cover all the scenic views, piazzas and little local shops.

Narrow streets leading into the heart of the city

Tourist shop – the flags sold are the flags that represent each district of Siena

Storefront of a meat and cheese shop

Our guide took us through the narrow city streets to the Piazza del Campo where concerts often take place as well as an annual horse race. This race takes place every summer in July and August and is a competition between the districts of Siena. The locals take it very seriously. The piazza is covered in sand and the horses race around ten times, the winner earning honor for their district. It is a very dangerous race run bareback and around tight, slippery turns.

Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo

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From the piazza we strolled through a few more narrow streets to find ourselves facing the stunning Cathedral of Siena. The facade is spectacular with incredible detail depicting the gospels as well as the legend of Romulus and Remus. It is said one of the brothers traveled to the Tuscany region and founded Siena.

Cathedral of Siena

Cathedral of Siena – She wolf with Romulus and Remus

The line into the Cathedral of Siena was devastatingly long so we chose to spend the limited amount of time in Siena strolling the streets and grabbing a bite of lunch. Our walk took us through the medieval town back to the Piazza del Campo, stopping at a few outlooks over the city along the way. From the piazza we weaved through more back roads passing unique shops before stopping for a quick lunch at a self-serve restaurant. We then enjoyed a delicious bit of gelato (I ordered two flavors in Italian that I could barely pronounce and had no idea what they were, but they were delicious).