Travel Journal

Toscana Region of Italy

(Thursday 27 May 2010) by Jill's travels
Saturday, 15 May we have been in the Toscana Region since Thursday and it is still raining and thundering!! The site (Toscana Village) is pretty with rosemary and poppies growing everywhere. We set up pitch and didn’t realise there was a very busy road running alongside it! Consequently its very noisy and muddy. Our friends Julie and Ste have flown in from UK via Pisa airport.

They were with us within the hour of landing, out of the rain eating cheese and drinking wine, ha. The climate is still very warm though and we were able to sit outside under the canopy until dark watching the fireflys buzzing around.

Monday, 17 May, we visited Lucca which is an impressive walled Town, that is, the wall was impressive. The town although medieval and pretty needed a little bit of tender loving care. We got to the Information Centre where the guy gave us a map and marked five crosses to the places we may like to see. They were Two towers which were a little delicate, a Cathedrale San Marino, Piazza Napoleone and a statue of Giacomo Puccini! We strolled around the little side streets taking in the five sights and had a coffee in the Piazza Anfiteatros. The highlight of the day was the walk around the wall which took us about 40 minutes and took in views over to the mountains. It was good to see however, not sure if a second is visit worthwhile. We got back lit the barbecue and put the world to rights.

Wednesday, 19 May, we visited Sienna and San Gimignano. It took us 1 hour and 30 mins to get to Sienna using a Toll Road which cost us just 2 euros. We had seen very pretty historic villages and towns since beginning our travels however, Sienna was quite different. Once we had parked the car we realized we had a fair amount of climbing to do before we reached the town however, once parked the passageway led us straight to lots of escalators! So, we took that option! What a very pretty medieval Town which although, dating back thousands of years had been carefully maintained managing to keep its original character throughout. The heart of the town is the Piazza del Campo which is an enormous bowl-shaped piazza where many events are still held and everyone sits, chats and has a coffee. So we joined them, three cappuccinos and a café latte cost 16 euros and to use the toilet we had to produce our receipt, may be a little commercialised! We people-watched and soaked up the atmosphere of the buildings surrounding the Piazza and the thermal spa bath where people threw in coins and made a wish. We had lunch sat on the steps of the Palazzo Salimbeni, the sun was warm and the place was buzzing. We continued strolling around the pretty shops and alleyways which led to walled pathways which overlooked the stunning open Tuscany countryside. There were lots of young people milling around and we later discovered that the once Convent di S Francesco had been turned into a University for Law and Economic Studies. We finished our visit there at the Basilica of San Domenico. Sienna is definitely one of those places that is quite unique and worth a second visit.

On the way back we decided to stop of at San Gimignano as our friends had been before and wanted us to see the scenic route from Sienna to San Gimignano. It was just how you imagine Tuscany to be, lots of olive trees, vineyards and orange and lemon painted houses built into the hills. San Gimignano is a medieval town which is built on a hillside and is a mini version of Sienna. It is very pretty with its historical characteristics kept very much in place. What I liked about this Town was its authenticity, Sienna had gotten a little commercialized where San Gimignano offered art and Italian produces with not a t-shirt in sight. It was so nice to browse around the tiny shops and art galleries and coffee came with a home made truffle and cost 8 euros for four. We continued back home on the scenic route, took lots of photos on the way, so we hope you get a taste of the beauty of Tuscany. Lazy day tomorrow with lots of freshly ground herbs, olive oil and Tuscan bread bought from the beautiful San Gimignano.

Friday, 21 May, we woke up to beautiful sunshine, I hope we’ve seen the end of the many rainfalls now. We drove to Pisa. The famous Tower, Cathedral, Duomo and Museum are situated in a walled area with stalls running all along the wall. To go to the top of the Tower costs 15 euros with different prices for each of the buildings, so we didn’t bother. It is very commercialised with a couple of thousand people contained in a very small area. Pisa was very disappointing, the river running through it was not a good sight and the many beggars and people trying to sell us bags and watches was a pain. There is a grassed area surrounding the tower and cathedral so we sat and had lunch before going in search of the Coast. We got to Livorna in just 20 minutes, that was disappointing also, as the beaches are privately owned so access to the beach can only be made through a hotel. We drove back, sat in the sun and played cards, then lit the bbq and once again enjoyed the warm evening xxx


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