Under the Tuscan Sun: San Gimignano & Pisa

Pisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorenceTo follow up on Part One of my Tuscany day trip, below are my futile attempts at capturing the sensational beauty of the Tuscan countryside. It’s 100 times more breath-taking in real life. After such a heavy consumption of carbs and wine, most people, including us, slept as babies on the way to San Gimignano, though. enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florence, The tiny towers on the horizon is San Gimignano. enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florence,

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town, renowned for its medieval architecture such as the towers in the picture above. My first impression was San Gimignano is such a tourist hub. When we arrived, throngs of tourists and tour groups were already there, and more started pouring in. The main street is lined with souvenir shops selling everything under the sun, all of which apparently were targeted at tourists. There were not a whole lot of local “actions” as in local people out and about minding their own businesses.

Or we just didn’t know where to find them.

However, it doesn’t make the town lose any of its quirks and charms. Still very well worth a visit if you ask me.

I have said it a thousand times before, and y’all are most likely sick of hearing about it but I’ll say it once again that the weather we had in Florence and all other cities was pure perfection. It wasn’t necessarily sunny and breezy all the times, but cloud and rain came at opportune times. By the time we got to San Gimignano, the sun was no longer as harsh as it had been earlier in the day. Shortly afterwards, the sky turned on its overcast and foreboding mode lending the town a more poignant medieval kind of vibe. Or was that just my overactive imagination?enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florence,

enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florence, enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorenceThis gelato shop proclaims to be the best gelato in the world. However, the flavors we tried were good, but not exceptional. Be prepared for a long line.
enchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florence, best gelatoenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout Florenceenchanting hilltop town of San Gimignano, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorenceWe had an hour wandering around San Gimignano, which was adequate to attain a good overview of the town. If you have more quality time there, I’m sure you will unearth a lot more gems.

Our last stop of the tour was Pisa town, where the legendary leaning Pisa tower is located. However, it was easily the least favorite part of the trip for me for a couple of reasons. For starters, it was terribly crowded, more like a zoo even though we came pretty late in the afternoon. Imagine how it would be throughout the day! Everybody was screaming (sort of) and getting in the way of others in order to snap cheesy tourist photos. I myself find those shots unappealing and borderline sacrilegious even though I’m not Christian or Catholic. I mean, why would some people want to make it look like their asses could save the leaning tower from falling to the grounds? Or one of their legs would be strong enough to push the tower back to its original position and stand erect? It was weird, plain and simple.

Piazza Dei Miracol is the main attraction of the town, but in all honesty it looks sad with all the sellers vying for your attention and wallet with some cheap souvenirs imported from China. And third, maybe I was just tired and cranky. However, I found comfort in the fact that I could cross Pisa off the bucket list, so it wasn’t all negative.

Pisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorencePisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorencePisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorencePisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorenceHow we got around the town of Pisa. I love, love, love this train-inspired car (?). It took us back to our parking lot, and after 2 hours of sleeping like babies again, we were back safe and sound in the heart of Florence.

Overall, I had another positive and memorable experience with Walkabout Florence. The tour was well-paced and suitable for those who don’t have an adequate amount of time to explore each of the town in-depth. On the way back, Michelle suggested me and my sister one of her favorite restaurants in Florence where we would dine later. It’s become my absolute favorite restaurant in Florence.
Pisa at dusk, The Best of Tuscany Tour, Walkabout FlorenceI told you that my day in Florence wasn’t complete until I took at least some photos of the Duomo in various positions. LOL. If you go back to the previous reports, you will see its photos at any time of the day. I promise there will be more to come. Please bear with my obsession for once.
florence, italy, duomo at night florence, italy, firenze at night, piazza del duomo The restaurant that Michelle pointed us to was Coquinarius, which she reviewed as “classic with a twist”. (OK, now I know that the phrase isn’t exclusive to the fashion world.) It was almost 9PM when we got to the restaurant. It was jam-packed and there was no way we could have a table except for waiting for at least half an hour.

An internal struggle ensued as a result about whether we should skip on this one before hunger got the better of us. But we trusted Michelle with all our life and decided to wait. Right off the bat, I fell in love with how this restaurant is set up. Clean and chic and atmospheric. The people were either couples or groups of friends or university students, so I deemed it safe to assume that it’s a good spot among Florentines and seasoned travelers. Once again, with a room full of Caucasians, we felt like two exotic animals imported from the third world. LOL. The waiter (or is the young man actually the owner? I’m not so sure) and the waitress were affable so we didn’t feel out of place.

We finally secured a table after 30 minutes of waiting and since it was quite late, we both opted for some light and wholesome salad. The salad was fine and exactly what I needed to liberate myself from feeling guilty as charged after an obscene amount of carbs consumed throughout the day. All in all, we loved the ambiance there enough that we decided to come back the next day, so stay tuned. We called it day soon after dinner…

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  • Esther

    We visited the same gelato shop at SanG, I have to try Coquinarius next time I’m in Firenze. We ate at Il Latini for their Bisteca Fiorentina. Try it next time. Loved all your pics and narraritves.

  • nakhoa2911

    Hi Esther- You definitely want to check out Coquinarius. Remember to make a reservation though because it will usually be pretty packed in the evening, which just goes to show that it’s well-loved :) I have noted down your suggestion of Il Latini. Always on the lookout for new restaurants. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Missy

    Hey just FYI you went to the wrong gelato shop. The guide says to go to the gelateria on your LEFT when you enter the piazza, it’s the one called Dondoli, and THEY are the world champion gelateria. By the picture you took of the shop sign, you went to the one on your right. If you had gone to the correct gelateria, you’d be telling a different story! Dondoli ice cream IS exceptional! :) I believe our guide told us not to make that mistake ;) (I was on the same tour as you)

  • nakhoa2911

    Missy: Seriously, did I? :) Finally I figured why the gelato wasn’t as good as it’s cracked up to be lol. Thank you. I hope people don’t kill me for telling them the wrong shop. Who are you, by the way? :) I’m trying to remember, maybe we talked?