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View of the sunrise from our hotel room.

Our first night in driving to the hotel was so exhausting enough that we fell right to sleep.  That said, I still woke up so excited and ready rise with the sun.  We started our first day with a wonderful traditional european breakfast complete with cappuccino, yogurt, cheese, cured meats, and pastries.

We walked uphill 2.6 km into San Gimignano, and when I say uphill I really mean “upmountain.”  It was such an amazing walk, difficult as it was, it mostly took us so long to walk it because we were stopping frequently to take pictures.

IMG_9835We arrived at the city gate almost an hour later. San Gimignano is the quintessential little tuscan hill town. Over the last decade it has gained popularity amongst tourists, and it’s no surprise as to why.

History and modernity collide in this old hill town.  From the second you enter the city gate you see everything from quaint markets and family owned restaurants to museums of torture and ATMs. (yes you did read correctly Museums of Torture are found in all these hill towns, it was quite an  odd feeling to say the least).  I was tickled at the sight of an elderly woman riding her moped through town, she didn’t just draw our eyes to her, her confidence and unvarnished demeanor commanded attention.

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San Gimignano is the definition of a hybrid.  The tourist traps are evident in this tiny town, but as you move through you find the quiet pockets where the town has maintained its identity.

Market day in San Gimignano consisted of mostly table cloths and shoes.  It was not what I expected when I think of market day, I certainly thought there would be some of these stations but I thought there would be more fresh produce and cheeses.   I was not disappointed long… once we discovered the small markets throughout the town we discovered all the charcuterie our hearts could desire.  The only thing I still feel remiss that we didn’t look for was a fresh bakery.

We had a lovely day, we ate outside this tiny (literally hole in the wall) restaurant.  We later snacked on some fresh pizza and delicious gelato.  I have never tasted a gelato as delectable as the fig gelato I had that day.

Perhaps the highlight of my day, though it is hard to pick because we had so much fun and saw so many beautiful things, was the castle.  Atop this ruin wall we saw the expanse of San Gimignano.  This sight was breathtaking and no pictures or description can do it justice.  I truly remember thinking as I looked out on the vast expanse of villas and vineyards… “this is exactly what I thought tuscany would look like.”

Needless to say my first full day in Italy was a day that I will never forget.