Even under a gloomy grey sky, the Ponte Vecchio is still worth a look.
According to Wikipedia, the Ponte Vecchio is “a Medieval stone closed-spandrel segmental arch bridge”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I thought I’d fill you in just the same.
About ten years ago I had dinner with my family in a restaurant “Golden View” across the river from here. I stayed behind after dinner, with my girlfriend at the time, and wound up playing the piano there. That resulted in the waiter providing us with complimentary champagne, strawberries and cream before driving us back to our hotel out in the countryside!
I planned on trying that trick again on this trip, but never made it across the river.
San Gimignano is an amazing little place. The town has successfully preserved fourteen medieval towers. These were built for defense and from the top, as you can see below, you could see people coming from miles around. They were built by wealthy families living there. Each time someone built a new tower, someone would begin plans to build a taller one. Apparently towers like this were common in Tuscany but most were lost to war, catastrophe or urban renewal.
I’ve been to San Gimignano a number of times. I remember visiting with my parents on a trip where I insisted on climbing to the top of anything we could climb and dragged them up more than one of the towers.
This time, one tower was enough. We were actually looking for lunch when I spotted a little doorway inviting you to climb to the top of the tower. It wasn’t the usual tower that tourists climb (the tallest one), it had actually been renovated to act as a vacation home. As we entered, I said we’d missed out on our chance to stay in one of these towers, thinking it would be amazing.
It wasn’t long before I changed my mind. Each floor was only big enough for one small room. So, we saw a sitting room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, another sitting room, a bedroom, another bathroom, and another kitchen on our way up. I was four flights of tiny spiral stairs in when I concluded that staying there would be absolute torture. Eventually, we burst through the roof into the sunlight, panting for air, and interrupted what appeared to be a romantic moment.
I set about taking photos from the tower. I actually liked being able to look up at the taller tower more than I think I would have enjoyed being up on it. It was full of tourists and after the happy couple descended, we had the place to ourselves. This photo is actually a panorama comprised of five photos to let me show you the whole scene. I actually wasn’t able to see down into the courtyard as the walls were so thick, but I edged my camera and tripod out as far as I could and let it peak over for me.
Once we returned to Earth we went to a little restaurant for a seriously garlic-heavy bruschetta while a man in a tailcoat with a bushy beard and sandals played the flute beautifully, before packing up, hopping on his bicycle and weaving away through the crowd.