Saturday, September 28, 2013

San Gimignano

Today we went by bus to visit the Tuscany Hill town of San Gimignano that is known for its fourteen remaining towers.   We left the apartment about 10:30 am…and walked to the bus station; easy to find now that we know the town!   And, it really is only a ten minute walk from our apartment!
Once there we purchased round trip tickets for our hour plus ride to San Gimignano.  The bus made stops along the way and at one point picked up a large number of students and then dropped them off again down the road. 
We arrived at the gates to the city about noon and started our slow trek up towards the main plaza and the Duomo.   We saw many tourist shops offering just about anything you’d want to buy along the way.  We kept our purses closed except for some post cards that the girls purchased during the day.   About 1 pm we did splurge as Mary treated us all to ice cream from the “World’s Best Gelato Shop”!   I enjoyed a scoop of White Chocolate and a scoop of Lemon!   A tasty treat that held off the hunger pains for several hours.
We spent some time visiting the Duomo that has frescos covering the walls of the Old and the New Testament.    No photos allowed but I got you two for the slideshow!  

We then took the walk up to the highest spot on the hill and enjoyed the three hundred sixty degree view of the countryside.  Then started the trek back down the street.  We saw a group of what appeared to be air force academy students; tourists from all over the world.  One gentlemen talked to us about the America’s Cup; he was from New Zealand and reminded us that there were six (I think) from New Zealand and only one American on the team that won!   We all had a good chuckle with them over the event. 
We decided to part ways and Mary and I headed back for the bus stop about 4 pm; hoping to catch the 4:55 pm bus.  We stopped for a sandwich to eat on the bus and found a large group waiting at the bus stop. It was about thirty minutes before a bus arrived and the crowd continued to grow.  A yellow bus arrived; we needed a blue bus. 
  We asked if he was going to Siena…si…he said.  I was the last person on the bus as they pulled me in the doors were squeezing my arms but I hung on to outstretched arms and was inside when he pulled away from the curb!   There was not a spare inch on the bus; a true can of sardines.  A man got up for Mary so we finally got her into a seat.  About twenty minutes later; the bus stopped in Poggibonsi; I remembered the town from the trip there.  Most everyone got out and a group of about ten who were also headed for Siena sat quietly.  The driver said, “every one going to Siena get out.”   We had to transfer to a new bus.  When asked how long he said five minutes; we looked at the electric board showing departures and pointed to it; there was no bus scheduled to go to Siena for over thirty minutes.   Then he said; “One Hour”.  
It was nice to have a group that we knew were also headed for Siena; and some of them spoke English.  Sure enough, about half an hour later the sign posted a bus for Siena at 6:30 pm.  And it finally arrived and again was packed but we managed to get seats. 
What was scheduled to be an hour long trip took us from 4:30 to 7:30 pm.  But we were finally in Siena and walked to our apartment.  Bonnie and Jane left two hours later than we did and had a very similar adventure with having to transfer at the same spot!   But that’s what makes traveling fun; never being absolutely certain of what your next move might be.
When Mary and I arrived home we saw that we are directly across the street from a meeting place for the local contrade (neighborhood) called the Oca (Goose).   They were out in the street with their scarfs and having some mysterious meetings.  We hung out of window that we kept dark and tried take some photos.  Later we heard a drum beating and that indicated a parade of banners.  But we only caught a glimpse as it was going away from us.  Now it’s nearly 11:30 pm and the parade returned with drums and they are now holding a very loud party with music about a block away.  These stone walls bounce the sounds up and down the canyons!  Bonnie and Jane have put their clothes on and walked down to see the party.  Mary is already asleep and I stayed with her.  I’ve seen the parties before when they were celebrating the Palio when we visited several years ago.  It’s a new experience for the girls!
Hope you enjoy the slideshow...seems to be working tonight:  

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