While the toscani successfully defended their hill towns for centuries, it took just three days for us to capitulate our reign over Castiglion del Bosco. The sword over our heads was the mere threat of another Amex swipe; those luxury suites and spectacular views come at a price.
It was time to head off on a new adventure: a day trip in Tuscany. Our first stop was must-see Siena, where we had a whirlwind tour of the historic town and its famed duomo.
One of the glories of the Siena cathedral is the Piccolomini Library which boasts a dizzyingly magnificent ceiling, exquisite frescoes and a stunning collection of illuminated manuscripts from the fifteenth century.
We briefly explored the town where our guide gave us a spirited tutorial about the importance of the contrade, the competitive districts whose fierce allegiances culminate in the frenzied three-minute Palio horse races that take place in the Piazza del Campo square twice each year. Our guide, a proud member of the Silkworm contrada, could barely contain her disdain as we walked through the rival Dragon district.
From Siena, we wound our way up to the charming walled medieval hill town of Monteriggioni. It is tiny and slightly less discovered by visitors than nearby San Gimignano, which I think you should be required to spell correctly in order to gain entrance. That would cut down on the tourist hordes! I much preferred Monteriggioni, where we enjoyed lunch on the inviting terrace at Ristorante da Remo.
San Gimignano is known for its charm, its shopping and its gelato, but most of all, I believe, for its aforementioned tourists. We did our part that day for the Italian economy:
Our day trip completed, we wound our way down the hills and toward our next destination, the capital of Tuscany and “cradle of the Renaissance”. Next stop: Firenze!