Posts Tagged With: San Gimignano

How I would See Italy

People always ask me, “What order would you see places in Italy?” All of Italy is great! You can not make a bad decision! Everyone that has been there has an opinion. This BLOG/VLOG is mine. I would see the famous big cities first because they are important. So the order would be:

  • Rome
  • Florence
  • Venice
  • Naples

But Milan, Siena, San Gimignano, Positano, Capri … are also important places to see.

The only rules I have are:

  1. Take your time in each place. Don’t rush and try to see all of Italy in a single trip. You will only see the inside of busses and trains.
  2. Sit at outside bars or trattorias and observe the people (non tourists) around you. Begin to understand Italian life.
  3. Try to communicate with locals.
  4. After the big cities, go to small resorts and mountain towns.
  5. Eat where the locals eat. DON’T EAT AT TOURISTY PLACES!
  6. Stay in small Italian hotels.
  7. Go on your own not with large tour groups. If you must use a group, keep it small.

Traveling to Italy is meant to be fun. So enjoy it! Watch our YouTube video below for more tips:

– George Febish

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Assisi, Bars, Beach Resorts, Beaches, Capri, Eating Italian, Espresso, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Milan, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Pantheon, Pasta, Pastry, Positano, Ravello, Regions of Italy, resorts, Romance, Rome, Saint Francis, San Gimignano, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Trottoria, Tuscany, Uffizi, Umbria, Vatican, Vatican City, Vatican Museum, Venice, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Tuscany, Italy

Everyone wants to go to Tuscany, Italy. It is home to the greatest Italian wines, great food and majestic cities. Great cities like Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Cortona and Montepulciano are located here. The road system is a good one with Italy’s main Autostrada, the A1, cutting through its center. The A1 can take you out of Tuscany north to Milan or south to Rome and Naples.

A drive along the A1 reveals hill-top cities everywhere. I just want to exit the highway and find my way up to a new small city on a hill-top. Come walk with us through some of Tuscany’s major cities and some fun ones. What ever your plans  are: wine, food, old cities, museums, architecture or sheer beauty, it can be found here.

Click on the YouTube link below to visit Tuscany and some of its cities …

– George

Categories: BLOG, Chianti, Cortona, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Museums, Regions of Italy, Romance, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuscany & Umbria Fun

In 2015 we took a week-long trip through some interesting cities of Tuscany and Umbria. This is a hilly area of Italy and the cities are hill towns with narrow streets and lots of stairs. It is Italy and the friendliness of the people and quality of the food and wine comes through.

The video below is an introduction to my Italian city videos.

 

Our trip was several weeks long but the first week was in Tuscany/Umbria and the rest was at our home in southern Campania. We flew into the Rome airport, Fiumicino, and rented a car.  Our itinerary was:

  1. Perugia – Chocolates – See are YouTube Video below
  2. Assisi – Home of Saint Francis – See are YouTube Video below
  3. Cortona – Home of Under the Tuscan Sun – See are YouTube Video below
  4. Montepulciano – The famous wine city – See are YouTube Video below
  5. Siena – Home of the famous Horse Race Il Palio – YouTube video coming soon
  6. San Gimignano – My favorite city anywhere – YouTube video coming soon
  7. Florence – Home of Italian art – See are YouTube Video below

There are so many more cities in this area worth seeing but we were limited to a week and wanted to spend time in Florence.

Perugia

This is home to the famous Italian chocolate Perugina. It is owned by Nestle now but in Italy it is made the original way with not as much sugar. The American version is sold with much more sugar. This small town has an old city center with very narrow streets that barely fit a car. See the video below for how narrow these streets actually are. As in most Italian towns, life takes place outside. Piazzas are places to sit at a bar or restaurant outside and enjoy and observe life around you.

Assisi

Assisi is a small hill town in Umbria that was home to Saint Francis and the Franciscan Monks. It is above all else an Italian city. The food and wine are great. Eating is done outside in piazzas and narrow streets. In our video we caught an Italian wedding as we were seated outside at a restaurant. You never know what will happen next but it will be fun and interesting.

Cortona

OK, we all know Cortona from the book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes made this small town popular to tourists from all over the world. The city is high on a hill in Tuscany overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Frances Mayes has her real home here as well as Bramasole, the home used in the movie. Walk with us through this wonderful city in our YouTube video.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a famous Italian red wine city (by the same name). Here you can walk a wonderful hill-top city and drink this and other great Tuscan wines. We stayed at a great hotel outside the city called Borgo San Pietro Hotel Cortona. You can see this city and the hotel in the YouTube video.

Siena

This video will be available on YouTube on Monday January 30th. This is a larger city with a great old center that has a huge piazza that is used twice a year (on July 2 and August 16)  run a famous Italian horse race, il palio. People crowd into the center of the piazza and horses race around them. Mud flies and everyone has a fun time. Outside race times the piazza is a place to meet friends and family and sit and relax in the sun. The border of this piazza is loaded with bars and restaurants. The food is good but they are very touristy which means high prices.

San Gimignano

This video will be available on YouTube on a Monday two weeks after the above Siena video. San Gimignano is by far my favorite city anywhere. It is a walled hill city with two main gates. It has been preserved in time from its medieval beginnings. You will notice The famous town homes that help protect families from invaders. In medieval times there were 72 of these homes measuring as tall as 70 meters (230 feet). Today there are only 14 surviving towers. Tourists have found this city and with tourists came tourists stores like Gucci but it is a great town to walk. Get off the main two streets and see the real town.

Florence

Florence was the center of the renaissance and brought art, style, architecture and culture to medieval Italy. Books have been written about Florence. It is a very large city and one of Italy’s main cities. You come here for food, wine, views and art. In our YouTube video we walk around Florence and show you great museums like the Uffizi. Florence has something for everyone. Spend some time here and get to know the city and the people.

Enjoy your travels and enjoy your life…

– George

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Cortona, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lakes of Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Saint Francis, Saint Peter's Basilica, San Gimignano, Siena, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Uffizi, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

San Gimignano Pictorial

San Gimignano is our favorite town in the world. It is old and untouched by modern times until very recently. It used to be a major stop on the trade routes to Florence until Florence changed the routes and basically put this small town out of business. It is in the region of Tuscany and Province of Siena. Its population is just under 8,000 people.

This is a walled medieval town that restricts traffic inside the walls to local residents only. There are many parking areas outside the walls and you walk in. The city is not that big and easily walkable. The architecture is beautiful.

During the medieval period there were 72 tall slender towers. This is one of the towns most distinguishing features. They represented wealth. The taller the tower the more your wealth. The tallest was 230 feet tall. Today there are only 14 towers left and preserved.

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Streets of San Gimignano

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Old small church in back of town

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4 of the towers

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Small street

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Narrow street

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A tower

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Main street in town with many tourists

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One of the gates through the Medieval Wall

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Main piazza with water well

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Main church in center of town

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Having a prosecco overlooking the wall

San Gimignano is a very romantic and ancient city. Don’t miss this city. It is just off the autostrada from Siena to Florence. Spend a day walking this city and being back in time.

You will see old towers and homes with the entrance on the second floor. In medieval times they would lower a letter to let people in and out and raise it at night to prevent invaders from getting in. Time runs much slower here so stop, take a breath and enjoy your life.

When George was first here in 1980 it was unknown to tourists. There were few tourist shops and no-one spoke English. The streets were empty. Today tour busses line up outside the walls and there are many shops along the main street. Most tourist never wonder beyond the main street and the piazza. Wonder down the side streets and see the real city. There is a restaurant with outdoor seating up on the wall. This is a city to wonder through and escape the tourist crowds.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Europe, Florence, Italy, Parking Garage, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Some of our Favorite Italian Cities

We love large and small Italian cities. We love both mountain cities and beach cities. Italy has it all! Rome, Naples, Venice and Florence are must see cities. They have great museums, architecture and food but after you have seen the top touristic cities where do you go? Italy has a second level of great cities and after those there are thousands of small cities some have never seen tourists. Here are my top second run cities in Italy:

  1. San Gimignano – This is George’s favorite city anywhere. He fell in love with it long before it became a tourist destination. It originally started as an Etruscan village in 3 century BC. This should be on everyone’s bucket list.
  2. Trastevere Rome – This is not a city but a section of Rome often overlooked. It is a maze of small streets that are now home to many artists and great restaurants. There is good night life here as well. We allowed ourselves to wonder and get lost. When it was time to return to our hotel, we turned on a map app on our iPhones and in walk mode just walked out and back to our hotel.
  3. Orvieto –  This is a small walkable city on top of a butte of volcanic tuff. It is in the province of Umbria north of Rome. In the center is a huge Duomo (Cathedral) of marble. There are great shops and restaurants here as well. From the train stain at the bottom of the butte, is a funicular to the city above. The views are amazing.
  4. Ravello – This is another city high up above the city of Amalfi on the Amalfi Coast. There is a winding road up but the views and food are worth the trip. You can take a bus (often very crowded) or a taxi.
  5. Largo (Lake) Maggiore –  The second largest lake in Italy (the first is Largo Garda). It boarders Italy on the south and Switzerland and the Alps on the north. This is home of the rich and famous. Small Italian wooden boats cruise the lake in the warm summer while you can still see snow high up in the Alps.
  6. Abruzza – This is a region of Italy with many towns in it. It lies on Italy’s East coast (bordering the Adriatic Sea). The western border of Abuzzi is only 50 miles from Rome. On its Adriatic shores are many resorts and beaches.
  7. Genoa – Is part of the Italian Riviera. It is close to the French border and the French Riviera. It was founded by the Greeks but probably served as a small port for the Etruscans as well.

Go to Italy and relive history. Take your history out of the books and onto Ita;y’s beautiful landscapes. Enjoy and be romantic!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Beaches, Eating Italian, Europe, General Travel, GPS, Italy, Mountain Towns, Naples, Orvieto, Rome, San Gimignano, Small Towns, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuscany

Tuscany, Italy is a beautiful and romantic place. No visit here would be complete without a stop in Firenze (Florence). Florence was the capital of the renaissance movement. It has great architecture and museums. The Statue of David by Michelangelo is magnificent. It is located in the museum at the Accademia Gallery. In this museum there are other statues that were mistakes in the creation of David. They are also very beautiful. The Statue of David was replicated many times. There is a copy in the main Piazza near the Ponte Vecchio (old Bridge). The Uffizi and the many Churches and museums are worth a stop. Buy a good guide-book and tour this wonderful city.

I enjoy other places in Tuscany as well:

  1. San Gimignano – This medieval walled mountain town is my favorite place. It was a great secret but over the last 10-15 years the tour buses have found it. You must park outside the city walls and walk in. There are two main entrances to the city (one in the north and one in the south). Don’t be afraid to wonder off the two main streets. The small side streets are romantic and provide a feel of the original life here.
  2. Siena – A beautiful old city that is easy to get to off the Autostrada. The Palio is a special event in Siena. It is the racing of the horses around Piazza del Campo. The duomo is magnificent as well. Be romantic and walk the small streets of Siena.
  3. Cortona – This small beautiful city was made famous by Frances Mayes book, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and the movie that followed. Cortona is a small city with wonderful hills and views all around. Get out and walk! You can see the house used in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” but it is difficult to find. Ask the tourist office in Cortona.
  4. Perugia – OK Perugia is near and dear to my heart and my sweet tooth. This is Italy’s chocolate city! It is where Perugina chocolates (Bacci) are made. You can tour the plant and taste chocolates. The Perugina factory is a short drive outside of Perugia. The city is divided into two sections. One up on a hill and other down at the base of the hill. There are escalators to transport you up and down. The main square is old and worth a visit.
  5. Assisi – This city is the home and burial grounds for Saint Frances. His church is really two cathedrals one on top of the other. It is massive and worth a visit. The town is old and has many interesting sites. Park and take a walking tour (like the one in the link above). Wikitravel has walking guides and things to see.
  6. Montepulciano – This is where Italy’s best and most expensive wine (Brunello) comes from. Many consider this city to be one of Tuscany’s most attractive cities. It is built up on a mountain with views of the area around it.

This general area of Tuscany is also home to Italy’s best Chianti wines. Look for bottles and wineries displaying the black cock. It is a symbol of the best made wines.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Chocolate, Europe, Italy, Mountain Towns, Parking Garage, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why America Loves Italy

Why do so many Americans vacation in Italy and buy homes there? There is a love affair going on between America and Italy. Maybe it’s that we have so many Italians in America and even more Italian restaurants that it feels familiar. I think it goes deeper than that. Italy has obvious charm:

  1. Old cities with buildings we can’t see in America
  2. Famous places we read about
  3. Clean beaches
  4. Majestic mountains
  5. Walled mountain top cities that are so unique to us
  6. Cities like Venice that are unbelievable
  7. Food that is so much better than anything we get back home
  8. Cheap table wine that rivals the best of wines
  9. Italians love for life
  10. Italians love for Americans

Is it any wonder we look to visits this country over and over again? The views take our breath away. We want a piece of it. If you haven’;t yet been to Italy, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go and see the major cities: Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice and Milan. See smaller cities like Capri, Positano, Amalfi, Verona (Romeo & Juliet). Get off the beaten path and see small walled cities with fantastic views. Experience chocolate in Perugia (home of Perugina chocolates – Baci). Go to Assisi and Siena and my favorite San Gimignano.  Don’t miss Tuscany,

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclos...

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclosed with walls, causing crowding and the building of tower houses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orvieto and Pompeii.

Italy has so much to offer it would take a life time to see it all. So don’t wait, get started on your adventure.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi Coast, Campania, Capri, Chocolate, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Naples, Orvieto, Perugia, Positano, Rome, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Venice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

San Gimignano, Italy

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclos...

Many towns, such as San Gimignano, were enclosed with walls, causing crowding and the building of tower houses. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My favorite city in the world is San Gimignano, Italy. It is a medieval walled town in Tuscany not to be missed. When I first saw this town it was 1985 and there were very few tourists. Today the tour busses line up outside the wall. Even with all the tourists it’s a great town. Get off the main streets, where the tourists exist, and see the back streets of San Gimignano. On one wall there is an Alfresco Restaurant with dinning on the wall overlooking Tuscany and Chianti country. This city is near Florence and not far from Pisa. There are wineries outside the city that are great. They are peoples homes with tastings in the kitchens. Yes Gucci has arrived in this town but it still offers an unspoiled look at early Italian life. Have lunch in the piazza or better yet spend a night and walk the main streets after the tourists have climbed aboard their buses and left.

 

Categories: General Travel, Italy, San Gimignano | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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