We have been in Italy for less than 24 hours and we find ourselves standing outside the Duomo di Siena
I am in search of a place to change E’s diaper and feed her (Glamorous life I live I know). I walk into a door that says Tourist Information across from the church entrance. I ask the lovely lady sitting at the desk if she knows of a good spot to change and feed E. She responds that there is a cafeteria down the street but then she pauses for a moment and says “No that is no good. Come with me.” She walks me through a beautiful, antique, wooden door and into this huge room where an ancient fresco is being restored on the walls. There are couches placed throughout the room to allow people to sit and take their time viewing the amazing painting. This wonderful lady then offers me a seat on a couch and tells me that this is part of the art museum but that I am more than welcome to use this area. I could not believe it. I sat there taking in the ancient artwork and looking out the window, which perfectly framed the Duomo.
And that was it. That was the moment I fell in love with Italy.
We spent the week of Thanksgiving finding our way around the Tuscany region. My father-in-law Larry joined us on this adventure. We stayed in an Airbnb home in Castel San Gimignano. This is a quaint, little town just south of the famous San Gimignano.
Our first day trip was to the breathtaking town of Siena.
Piazza del Campo
O’s favorite activity
They hold a horse race in this Piazza every year called Il Palio. The seventeen neighborhoods of Siena compete for bragging rights. The Piazza is big but not THAT big. I can’t imagine holding a horse race there. However, the event looks amazing and you should Google Il Palio Siena if you ever get a chance.
Cappella di Piazza and Torre del Mangia
Sitting in Piazza del Campo is this Church and tower. The climb to the top of the tower is supposed to be very steep but has breathtaking views. We have two small children so the view from the bottom was good enough for us.
Duomo di Siena
This was supposed to be an extension onto the existing church but the construction was poorly done and the plague hit town. So now it is a tall wall that you are able to climb up and check out the panoramic view of Siena.
We finished our day with a picnic on the Piazza.
Siena was such a stunning town and a great way to start off our trip.
When in Italy you must make pasta! We enjoyed a cooking class at Il Vicario, a small B&B located outside San Gimignano. Il Vicario is run by Fulvio along with his niece Katia. They grow almost all of their food on site. E was not feeling well this day so I had to stay at home while the boys learned their way around an Italian kitchen.
Gavin said the class was great fun but also hard work. Apparently making pasta from scratch isn’t the easiest job in town but the results are worth it!
Bonus for me: I am not the one with the pasta making skills in the house now.
We did a quick trip to San Gimignano in the evening as the sun was setting. San Gimignano is a rather small town with only a few attractions so it can easily be done in a few hours (if most of the tourists have gone home for the day).
While we were strolling along the streets, we noticed a sign that pointed to a scenic viewpoint. We got to it just as the sun was setting and it did not disappoint.
Of course we also ran around the piazza:
Saw the church.
Most importantly, we ate gelato.
A nice way to end the day.
Tours Around Tuscany
We hired a private tour guide for a day. My former classmate had highly recommended the company Tours around Tuscany. Gianni, the owner, was our tour guide for the day and it was fantastic. This company focuses on taking you to places off the beaten path. No large tourist areas but more small towns, local points of interest, family owned wineries/restaurants and a few places you may not have even thought to stop at and have a look. For example, Gianni brought us to a crystal factory where they hand make amazing crystal pieces. This is not something we would have scheduled to do on our own but it ended up being a really unique experience. If you are ever in Tuscany, you need to schedule a day with Gianni. It is worth it!
That’s all for Part 1. Coming up next will be Florence, Volterra and more!