Another spectacular day! We started with breakfast at our hotel and we were off at 8.30 for San Gimignano. San Gimignano is a wonderful hilltop town with towers...and lots of shops. As an aside, there are 8,000 hilltop towns in Italy all from medieval times - after the fall of the Roman Empire and before the Renaissance. I am happy to support the Italian economy by purchasing leather goods - especially when you can meet the people who create it. We learned that Italy has produces the highest quality toothpicks. We didn't find any toothpicks to buy. We didn't look that hard.
San Gimignano is so cute and the area surrounding it is stunning. Tuscany is so beautiful - even the air has a rustic camp fire smells to it. Tuscany has strict rules protecting the landscape - new construction is not allowed. Apparently you can't even add or take down a tree.
We learned that only 8% of Italy's economy is tourism. 70% is from small family businesses. With that in mind we went to visit a family farm and vineyard in the Chianti region for wine tasting and snacks. The farm is called Tavernelle Val di Pesa. The business has been run by the family for three generations and they grow grapes, olives and grain. We did a short tour and sat down outside on the patio for tasting. It wasn't really tasting because the 12 of us has 8 bottles of wine. That's a lot more than a taste! Sitting outside at a Tuscan farm/vineyard with the sun shining, drinking wine and eating delicious meats, cheeses, bread olives and bruschetta...it doesn't get any better! Locals drop by to fill their jugs with wine for 1.50€ per litre. Crazy!
After drinking and purchasing ( how can you go wrong at 3-9€ /bottle?) a lot of wine we headed to Pisa. The four marble buildings in piazza dei miracoli (square of miracles) are amazing but of course we are all there to see the leaning tower. The most known monument in the world according to our guide. I've seen a lot of photos of the tower but it is different in person. It's brilliant white marble that looks so spectacular and strong - except for the whole leaning thing. We did the obligatory holding up the tower photos.
Oh, both James and his mom are on the hunt for deodorant. Lyn thought she found some in a store...but it turned out that what she picked up was only shaped like deodorant and was for something entirely different. Something a little more intimate. I had to stop her before it got to the till. No one wants arm pits that are lubricated and may warm or tingle. We did have a good laugh!
We are in La Spezia tonight. We are having a great time on this tour. There are only 12 of us and it's such a great group of people.
On the serious side there is a higher police presence at tourist attractions since Paris and Brussels. I guess that's a good thing.
Off to dinner soon. Ciao!