Tag: hilltown

Separate Walks and a trip to Chianni (21/08/2021)

Separate Walks and a trip to Chianni (21/08/2021)

A short one, this!

While my brother and I walked together, Niamh took a separate walk. I took some pics of my walk – how much of a surprise is this to you by now?

And Niamh’s photos are below. There is one in particular which is incredibly striking.

After having had a couple of longer trips recently (to Val d’Orcia and Chianti), we decided to stay a little closer to home, and drove to the town of Chianni. As we were still in August, it was still quite sleepy. We had a short wander around. I decided not to film, just so I could have a break from it and enjoy the day more mindfully.

It is a cute little town, and worth a little walkabout. But we were hungry (what else is new?!), so we found a hotel still open. Now, I blow hot and cold on hotel-based restaurants, but I’m glad we stopped at Le Vecchie Cantine.

The welcome at first seemed a little indifferent, as we were shown to our table (inside because, you know, blasting furnace outside), but it turns out they had a couple of other groups there, who must have arrived shortly before us, so they were a little busy. Once we got personal attention for our order, normal Tuscan service had resumed and our waitress was warm and enthusiastic.

We made our choices, and it seemed that I would be driving back home, which was fair enough. I think I had one glass of red. Only I had both an antipasto and a primo. Niamh had a Caprese salad she raved over, and my brother went for a pasta.

I have a vague memory of having had a a tiramisu too… but I’m not certain. It sure sounds like the kind of thing I would have done.

Afterwards, we got a little lost in Chianni. Ok, not so much lost as not being able to find our way to the church, the apse-end of which met flush with cliffs at the end of the town. Google was throwing us everywhich way and back again, so we eventually abandonded the idea in the heat, took a few more snaps and headed back to the car.

We drove past the church on the way home. Sadly, I don’t have much of a memory of what else happened that day, apart from the ubiquitous:

I hate to leave on a bitter note (sorry!), but I hope you enjoyed this shorter blog. Please leave a comment!

San Gimignano by Night

San Gimignano by Night

Heya all – just a quick update today, as rumour has it we’re off to the beach this morning.

Yesterday, after the breakfast chill, our guest went out to complete her exploring, while Niamh and I did a little shopping for water and milk, got a copy of keys cut for guests and ordered a frame for the artwork we bought a couple of days ago.

Once done, we all met up in Piazza dei Priori for a bit of lunch at Ristorante Etruria. We ate at a leisurely pace, and decided upon whether we’d hang around for a coffee and/or dessert. Instead, we went to L’Incontro for gelato!

Above is eggplant parmagiana (which I tasted – it was amazing), ravioli in with a pork ragú and taglioni with truffle.  All good stuff.  The waiter there recognised us, and he’s a good guy – we got a little glass of spumante each to begin the meal.

The most exciting thing we did between us that afternoon was to buy a keyring for the newly copied keys.  Yep – we vegetated.  

We headed out to San Gimignano at around 18:30.  This town is arguably the nicest-looking small town in Tuscany.  The old centre has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is essentially a medieval movie set.  But would I live there?  Hell, no!  Firstly, I couldn’t affort to – property prices for apartments similar to our own were double that of Volterra.  Secondly, you spend 8 months of the year rubbing arses with tourists when you head out.  This might seem hypocritical as a blow-in, but hey-ho.  And lastly… well, this might seem mean, but pretty is as pretty does – I think Volterra has far more culture and history to it – plenty of inspiration for stories.  

We got there in about 40 minutes – we were stuck behind a slow driver for some of the way, but then spent another 15-20 minutes looking for a parking spot.  We found one at the other side of town and squeezed our way in. The place was busy, even passing my expectations.  It was also hot, at around 27 celsius – about 5 degrees warmer than Volterra.

We had a passable meal in La Griglia (the risotto was weird, the steak was good – no photos, as I completely forgot) – the restaurant has lovely views out into the Tuscan Countryside.

Then we headed out to the ‘business’ end of San Gimignano.  Make no mistake, it is shockingly beautiful, and absolutely worth a visit.  Go on an organised tour, though, or if privately, then go extremely early or after 20:30!  Note all the towers.  There are 13 or 14 of them, but they used to number in the low 70’s.  This is why San Gimignano is often called the Manhattan of Tuscany – it looks impressive from a distance.

We headed home – Google Maps taking us on an alternative route, which would have had some pretty impressive views had we been able to see!

I had no walk this morning, and so showered early in order to free up the bathroom for the others, so we can make an early start to Marina di Cecina.  I know it’s not the locals’ favourite beach here, but it has sand (albeit dark grey, due to iron content), the blue-green wobbly stuff, and a handy promenade just kissing the sand itself.

I might blog late tomorrow, or not at all, as we have to get up at sparrow-fart to drop our guest off at the airport.  We’ve enjoyed having her here, and are sorry to see her go.

Medieval Festival – Day 2

Medieval Festival – Day 2

Warning! This post is media-heavy!

We got up, breakfasted (I skipped my walk), showered and headed out to the Festival. We bought the tickets, got our wristbands and waltzed through security. Or at least I did – the ladies had to have their bags checked.

The Palazzo dei Priori was our first port of call, to play dress-up and rent a costume for the day. It was one of those weird occasions where you don’t think you’d need an official piece of identification, but we did – at least our guest had her driving license with her, which she had to leave with them as collateral. I got a monk’s robe, and Niamh was a woman-of-modest-means, and our guest was a chaste peasant! I may post pics another day, but you can see us down below, having a bit of fun with the mixologist from Antica Velathri Café.

We mooched around the main area – pretty much skipping the performance by the sbandieratori, as we’d seen them a lot the previous night. Once done, we all had a killer sausage and onion sambo to stave off the hunger.

Then it was off to the park to watch the falconry exhibit again.  No movies this time – you can check out Day 1 again.  Niamh tried using the crossbow, and came very close to hitting the targets (the targets were tiny – apple sized – nobody was hitting them), and afterwards, both the ladies tried archery.  Niamh was worryingly good at this.  I’d better watch my back!  Again, photos may be forthcoming later.

It was getting really warm – even though the monk’s habit was curiously insulating, and so some refreshment was in order.  We left the park by the other gate, and headed to Antica Velathri Café, where we became celebs for about 3 minutes.  The guy there is really sound, and is happy to help me practice my Italian.  He took photos of us to put on his social media sites, and a couple of other onlookers joined-in and took pics of their own!

Of course we had a little booze – iced mulled-wine and Moretti.  The mulled wine was yum.

We were roasting by then, and went back to the apartment to chill.  But not only to chill, as we had an All-Ireland hurling final to watch!  Tipperary, against the odds, pretty much trounced Kilkenny, which made Niamh and her family very happy indeed.

We headed out again for another wander about town, but this time we brought our costumes back. We only thought briefly of wearing them again, but we knew we were going out to eat, and if it was too warm out, if would have been too much of a trial.

We were early to our restaurant, and it wasn’t yet opened. Cursing our luck, we joyfully skipped to Quo Vadis for a swift pint to while away the time! Once sufficiently pinted, we strolled to Ombra Della Sera Pizzeria and yummied down pizzas, and a small, shared plate of fries.

About halfway through our pies, our guest and I swapped pizzas and carried on guzzling, and kept up the calorie count by creeping around to L’Isola del Gusto for a naughty cone.

Unfortunately, I think we missed the skill-at-arms competition, and maybe even an archery competition somewhere… ah well… it just means we’ll have to come back next year 😉 

The market at night is cool. The stalls are nicely lit up, and different sets of jesters and performers patrol the streets. We didn’t stay for the full closing ceremony, but hung around the main square to catch a closing act.

Both ladies bought really cool masks made of leather – Niamh’s one is now on display in the apartment.

The sbandieratori closed off the whole show (we know this, because we heard them from our balcony, whilst gulping down wine).

Below are some photos and videos of the nighttime fun.

This morning, I wasn’t feeling too bad, and so both I and our guest went around by Porta San Felice, Porta San Francesco, past the Roman ruins, down to the Docciola carpark and took the arduous stairs back up to town.  A shortish route, but with some challenge, especially at the end.

While our guest is out being a tourist, we have to get some shopping in, keys cut, and we might see about framing that artwork we bought.

This evening, we’ll attempt to go (and park!) to San Gimignano.  The jewel in the hilltown crown.  Pretty is, as pretty does, mind you – I still think Volterra has more to offer!