Monday, October 31, 2016

Under the Tuscan Sun

As awful a traveller as I am in the air, I can't really claim to be all that much better on land since severe carsickness assails my battered senses the moment I'm dragged away from the driver's seat. So it's only fair to say that despite the beautiful, sweeping landscapes provided by the famed hills and vales of Tuscany, I found myself resolutely shutting my eyes as much as possible.

Moreover the famed hills and vales didn't prove at all conducive to the civil engineering of straight, perfectly smooth highways which is how I found myself desperately groggy as we found ourselves jolted on a bus all the way through the winding, undulating roads of rural Tuscany.

Maybe I was meant to ride on horseback!

Nevertheless - which speaks very much for the phenomenal vistas provided - I would still recommend getting on that rattling bus.

Though perhaps with a little less consumption of the Chianti.

Which was unfortunately inevitable with a tour around the region since the world famous vineyards abound in this very area. So despite booking a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano, somehow a brief detour to the vineyards had to be slotted in for the shameless lushes. Being less than a noted connoisseur of wine, obviously it was a horrifying experience to have endless glasses of wine pressed into my shaky hands for a review.

Happily by the time we made it to San Gimignano, the groggy effects of my incipient alcoholism had started wearing off; otherwise I would undoubtedly have clumsily tumbled down the steep steps heading up to the hilly fortress town. The added prize of the best gelato ever at the main piazza turned out to be the ideal panacea for my subsiding headache. Built on a precarious ridge of a hill, the soaring towers of San Gimignano served as the perfect introduction to the walled hill towns of Tuscany - and certainly explained the amazing glutes much prized by the Italian artists.

All that endless hiking up and down certainly helped!

Far larger than most of the smaller hill towns and on thankfully far more manageable terrain, Siena certainly caught my eye with its medieval splendour spread around the peculiarly shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. Quaint stores peddling souvenirs from pottery to sweetmeats proliferate in the town centre; one of the reasons I found Siena absolutely charming and worthy of a second visit! Unfortunately there was barely any time to haggle a decent bargain since the tour bus kept hankering to leave before dark.

Fortunately I managed to snag some panforte and a couple of terracotta plates to add to my stash before hopping into the bus. 

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