After a wonderful trip to Venice and Bologna, we returned home to Siena to explore some neighboring Tuscan towns. For the next three days, my mom, dad, and I (Justin had to work) drove all around Tuscany seeing some cute villages, seeing beautiful scenery, drinking great wine, and having some great food. This is the first day of our Tuscan adventure.
Monteriggioni, San Gimignano, Volterra. Three very different cities located north of Siena in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. Justin and I had been to Monteriggioni and San Gimignano before, but every time, we were cursed with rainy, cold days. This was our lucky day, because we experienced a beautiful day under the Tuscan sun.
Our first stop was Monteriggioni, a tiny hill-top village that is completely enclosed within it's ancient medieval walls. This walled village was originally built in 1203 as a fortress for protection against the raging battles between Siena and Florence. As soon as you walk through the first gate to the village, you can already see the gate leading out. There are a grand total of 80 people who live within theses gates. There is a cute little church, a cafe, a few shops selling pottery and wine, and grand vistas of the Tuscan countryside all around. Monteriggioni is easily passed on a grand tour or Tuscany, but a great stop to see a tiny medieval village.
After enjoying a cappuccino and a sweet in the cafe, we headed to San Gimignano. San Gimignano is another very picturesque medieval hill town. Many years ago, the residents of this city were dyers (they dyed cloth), so they built towers to hang the drying dyed cloths from. Originally, there were over 70 towers in this small city. Today, there are 13 of the original remaining.
By the time we arrived, it was lunch time, so we found a cafe and had panini with Vernaccia, a white wine produced around San Gimignano. We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the town, through olive groves and into wine shops. As I said earlier, Justin and I had been to San Gimignano before, but it really is a much nicer city to see on a nice sunny day. After finding some paintings and wine to spend money on, we headed to Volterra.
On a map, Volterra looks very close to San Gimignano. The roads tell a different story. Although very beautiful, these roads are not for the weak stomach or someone who gets motion sickness easily. These Tuscan roads are some of the curviest and winding roads that I have ever driven on.
When we finally arrived in Volterra we found out that we were just late enough for everything to be closed. Volterra is famous for alabaster, a roman theater, etruscan museum, and, if you are a Twilight fan, the Volturi. We did have enough time to walk around and see the theater from the outside. We also explored a few shops and took some pictures before heading home on the windy roads back to Siena.