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Report 1043: Luggage, Lattes and Lunacy

By Palma from California, Spring 2006

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Page 11 of 17: May 29: Happy in San Gimignano

photo by Ida

Happy in San Gimignano

I was up at 6:15 and outside with my luggage by 7. We left Vico at 7:55, stopped for a half an hour at the bank for Ida and Gail to change money, and we were on our way to San Gimignano by 9. We arrived at our hotel, Antico Pozzo at 11:00. On our first day in Italy, Gail had said she was prone to motion sickness. Since I am not, I offered to be the back seat passenger every time we were in the car. Gail was grateful for this especially around the curvy mountain roads near Vico where Ida approached each curve going up or down the mountain by honking her horn (think Ravello roads without the sea).

I mentioned my bad foot earlier. Ida and Gail cut me some slack today by dropping me off with the luggage at our hotel before they moved the car. Going with them to move the car would have required quite a number of flights of stairs from the garage up to the town, and we all agreed I needed a shopping fix more than I needed to go with them to the garage. I can be limping and wincing in pain, but you put me in a shopping area, and it fools my foot into thinking I am a marathon runner. My brain becomes distracted from all pain and goes into consumer mode. After three hours in the backseat, I was like a rabid caged animal. I could hardly decide which I needed more: a smoke or a shopping bag! I had both very quickly.

By the time I was sitting in Piazza Cisterna eating a panino for lunch at 12:30, I had four shopping bags full: eight pashminas (six for gifts, two for me), ten stone bracelets (seven for gifts, three for me), and two purses for gifts. For myself I bought: two beaded necklaces, two gold charms for my Italy bracelet, two leather purses, a beautiful scarf, and a leather belt for Brad. I felt better than I had in days! The sun was out, I wasn’t cold, there was a lot of energy in the piazza, and I met an American couple that wanted some restaurant suggestions in town. All was good.

Ida called at one, saying they had moved the car, unpacked, eaten gelato for lunch and she was ready to shop. I told her I was dropping off four bags at the hotel and taking an Internet break. I directed her to the Internet Caffé and she joined me for more shopping. Gail was off to see the church and towers and Ida wanted a purse like mine. We returned to the purse store, where Ida bought two, I bought two more, and we went to the Tabacchi to add phone minutes. On the way back to the hotel, I had my Chianti apron embroidered with “Cucina di Palma”, and I freshened up and changed into the clothes I would wear to dinner.

We agreed to meet at 8:30, and it was only 5:30. I grabbed my journal and settled in at a caffé with a glass of Vernaccia. This has been much more like my idea of a great day in Italy. I know many think San Gimignano is too full of tourists and too commercial, but there is something about it that I love (besides the shopping). When the buses leave in the evening, the views from the walls become the vistas I dream of at home.

I walked for a while, circling the perimeter of town and looking over the hills and nearby vineyards in the golden glow of late afternoon. A peace came over me, and I realized that a lot of what was missing from this trip was that quiet magic of the Italian countryside. Brad and I can sit for hours, sipping a glass of wine while holding hands and transporting ourselves back in time to the history of the area, imagining the stories these crumbling stone walls and olive trees would tell if they could speak. I watched the sunset, and thought, "We will have these kind of moments during our stay in Piemonte in September." Italy always brings out my spiritual side, and I miss the deeper philosophical conversations, the connection to my family and childhood memories I have had on other trips. But this is what it is. I returned to the caffé and had a lovely quiet hour to journal my thoughts and ponderings about past, and hopefully future, travels to Italy, and what emotions and images each region brings up for me. I will save those thoughts to share in another format.

I met Ida and Gail outside our hotel at 8:30. We walked around the corner to dine at Osteria del Cantene. I had a delicious, light spaghetti with zucchini, sausage and hot pepper, followed by veal with pecorino. We shared a bottle of Vernaccia. Total: 32 Euro. After dinner we returned to Piazza Cisterna and had caramelo gelato and cappuccino. I spoke to Brad and was asleep by 11:30.

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