Going Up in San Miniato

Going Up in San Miniato

The previous night, Niamh whipped out the pasta maker and had a crack at making it for the first time – we settled on tagliatelle.

The result was excellent pasta, and a good taste to the sauce, but it was a little dry.  This was down to a couple of things, but principally it was down to the meat we were given was far too lean, sadly – and ended up being far too crumbly.  More lessons learned!  It will be interesting to see how our cooking course goes on the 16th.

Anyway, yesterday we dropped our guest off at the airport, and decided to make use of the fact that we were on the SGC FI-PI-LI (the main artery linking Florence, Pisa and Livorno), to go to San Miniato.   It is about 35-40 minutes away from the airport, by that dual carriageway.  We drove all the way to near the outskirts – a good way up, only to drive all the way down into an inexpensive carpark (50c/hr).  There is a lift which goes all the way up to the start of the old town.  The shaft is an impressive looking thing.


We went up, and had a little explore, to get our bearings, before heading into a bar for a quick pastry for brekkie.  The ‘touristy’ part of town is banana-shaped, and is very pretty.  We went to a more modern set of buildings, which contained some community buildings, a good example of which was the library, which had what can only be described as ‘face seats’ in an outside area.  A church just lay off one of the main squares – so we had a little explore in there too.

We then went to the more ‘quaint’ (I hate that word) section.  The square there is gorgeous and is often their setting for festivals and is where they hold their Christmas markets.  The cathedral lies above up some steep steps.  The roof and artwork within is worth viewing.

They were prepping for a wedding that was to be held there later that morning.  We were lucky to see it, as about 30 minutes later, they’d closed the door.

There are a bundle of panoramic viewpoints within the town, but the two highest are up the Torre di Matilde, or on the little green where the Torre di Federico II lies.  The former costs €3 to enter, while the latter is free.  We went to the latter, as (honestly!) it was the first one we saw of the two.  The views were amazing, as the green is completely open.  A bit of a climb up some steps is required, though – and you’re not actually allowed in the tower itself.

Check out the panoramic shot above!

It was a little cloudy, but still warm.  On our way back to the car, we stopped briefly at La Pennellessa (aka Santuario del Santissimo Crocifisso – Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix), a fat cross-shaped building topped with a dome.  Inside were pews, an altar, and yet again some wonderful artwork.  We then headed home.

Unfortunately, lunch back in Volterra was one of the worst dining experiences we have ever had.  I’m not going to name and shame the place, as sometimes you can just have a bad day – but our order was wrong, food came out at different intervals (often to be expected, but not at 20 minute intervals).  We just stared and watch each other eat.  My main was tasty enough (a veal cutlet), but Niamh’s was a travesty – a burger (on it’s own – no bun), dry, with dry grilled veggies and weirdly, slices of (dry) pecorino.  She barely touched it.  All around, people were looking pissed off with bad service and poor food.  It looked like they were completly unprepared for a busy service.  What a shame.  We’d been there before for pizza, which they’re great at (no, it wasn’t Ombra della Sera Pizzeria!), and so were shocked by how bad everything was.  They tried to make amends by not charging us for a portion of fries, but this damage is pretty much permanent – it’s doubtful we’ll ever return to that place.  

We went back to the apartment and chilled.  Later that evening, Niamh cooked herself a small meal and I just had some simple cold-cuts.  I ended up not going out at all, except to buy some sliced turkey and ham in the supermarket.  I have to get into the habit of going for a quick evening stroll again!

The day was interrupted by a hell of a thunderstorm.  We had a batten down the hatches, and wait for it to pass over.  Lightnight crackled overhead and there was the most terrific boom at one point – the windows seemed to vibrate in their frames.  And there was a lot of rain.  It looked like we were practically in the middle of the thunderhead itself.

This morning, I got up and walked down to the CoOp and took a long route back up.  It’s a loooong, steady climb up, so I got a decent workout.  I also wore my puffer jacket for the first time.  Temperatures have definitely dipped this week – but I have to admit I was a sweaty mess by the time I got back home.  Lovely cloud-lakes formed islands again in the hills below.  That always looks amazing to me.  Oh, for a camera with decent optical zoom, though.

We have a motorbike race timetrial on this weekend.  Part of the main road to Cecina/Siena will be closed, and we figure this leaves us stranded in town for the weekend.  Maybe I’ll catch some of it – might be a bit of fun.

I’m late with the blog today, as our Mondo Convenienza delivery of furniture arrived today.  Unfortunately, they had other deliveries in the area and so came with a massive truck, despite us telling them already on the delivery form that we were in a centro storico.  Our property manager even told them that a second time when the date was arranged, but still they messed it up, and will now have to phone *again* to re-arrange.  Bloody annoying, and not very professional.  The delivery lads themselves were apologetic, but I got nothing out of the lady in head office when I complained.

Anyway – there’s nothing we can change about it now, and so just have to get on with it.  

In other slightly annoying news, or wifi extender simply isn’t playing ball at all.  We’ve tried it several times, but althought it worked at first in December, it is now fiddly to get any signal – plus it often drops.  We might have to get a new one… not Asus, though.

See you in the next (hopefully happier) one!

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