We got an early start this morning – after breakfast in the hotel we walked our luggage down to the bus and left for San Gimignano at 7:15. It was a long drive through the Appenine mountains – some long tunnels – and we made several stops. Our first event of the day was a tour of a winery which also processed olive oil. We saw the vats and the kegs and then sat down for a tasting – four different wines, two white and two red. With the wine we were served a plate of cheese, some meats, some bread and honey and marmalade. We had a great time and toasted Pastor Brown on a great trip – even though it’s not over.
After the winery tour we drove a short distance to Gimignano where we walked about a mile up hill along a cobblestone street to our hotel. Gimignano is an old style town with meandering narrow streets and very old buildings. We checked into the Cisterna Hotel – so named because there is the remnants of an old well in the center of the plaza where it is located. Our room is on the first floor and we have a balcony with a beautiful view of the hills and fields – hoping to see a great sunrise tomorrow morning.
Our evening concluded with a guided tour of San Gimignano where we learned that this village was located along a pilgrimage rout to Rome that thrived during the Middle Ages. The wealthy merchant families competed to build the best towers – eventually 72 were built, 14 of which still stand. The town fell on hard times due to the plague and the demise of the prestige of pilgrimages. For that reason, it wasn’t subjected to much modernization over the centuries and thus has been more easily restored as an authentic example of culture and style from the early middle ages through the renaissance. It was a two hour tour – once again we are tired and ready for bed. Once again, we have an early call for tomorrow and our journey to Florence – better set the alarm.