May 7 - Day of our Tuscany Tour (Siena, San Gimignano & Pisa in 1 day)!
We all woke up pretty early so we could be at the Firenze train station by 8:15am. At 8:30 our bus was leaving for our day long tour of Tuscany along with about 50 other people. This was an English speaking tour recommended to me by several people and had very high review on viator where we purchased our tickets.
Our amazing tour guide Stefano was exactly what you would expect a 30 something year old Italian to look like with a wonderful Italian accent while speaking very good English. He gave us history and information on the ride to our first stop - Siena.
In Siena we met up with a Siena tour guide that took us on a mostly uphill walk through Siena's streets. Everyone had headsets so they could hear the guide but didn't have to be within earshot. We saw the world's oldest bank, the site of the famous horse race. We got a tour of the Gothic Cathedral which also used to be a hospital.
Then we had some leisure time where we bought some fruit as a morning snack and then wandered back to the meeting place before checking back in at the Piazzo del Campo.
|checking us in with Stefano|
On the way, Stefano talked a little more and we watched a video about the horse race in Siena. The farm/winery was in the Tuscan countryside with amazing views of the city, San Gimignano, on a hill in the distance.
We went on a little tour of the vineyards, the barn, and the wine cellar. It was really interesting to learn about the olive oil making.
Then we had a delicious lunch of bread with ah-may-zing olive oil, handmade pastas, meats, cheeses, salad, veggies, and almond biscuits dipped in wine for dessert. There were various types of wine on the tables to try with the different courses. Everything came from the farm and winery right there and we were served on farmhouse style long tables.
After lunch we had a picture taking session outside with the hills in the background :)
Next we got back on the bus to climb the hills up to San Gimignano, or as said by Keith with a pirate voice San Germinyarno. Here there was no tour and we just strolled through the streets.
Of course no day was complete without gelato and the shop that won the gelato world cup was just the place to get it. Eric and I had cinnamon and vanilla and it was spectacular and well worth the line we waited in.
Oh and I had to get a pic with the Volterra sign. Alas we were so close.
The final stop was Pisa, you know leaning tower of Pisa. We rode this "choo choo" train into Pisa while hearing about the city and then we had around an hour to roam about.
This was plenty of time as honestly we only wanted to see the tower and take some of those cheesy pictures with it. Any more time would have been overkill.
Did you know vespas started in Pisa?
Then we rode the bus back to Firenze and arrived at 8:30pm to end the tour. At that point we were ready for a late little dinner. We pulled out our guidebook and picked a place sort of on the way back to the apt near the mercato centrale. It was a little restaurant owned by two cousins with a cool display of wine bottles.
Megan and I both had the stuffed chicken (there really didn't seem to be a ton of chicken dishes in Italy so that was nice). As part of Eric's meal he had tomato bread soup which sounded strange and only looked ok but we all tried it and it was fantastic. Who knew?
We walked back to the apt and all slept so well after a fun packed day. We highly recommend the Tuscany tour if you are looking to see a few hill towns and only have a day to do so. Stefano was humorous and really engaging. San Gimignano was my favorite. The tour is a lot of walking but it didn't bother us and meant working up an appetite for yummy Tuscan food and gelato!