Day seventy-one: San Gimignano to Colle di Val d’Elsa

I hope I got all that spelt correctly!

Our day got off to a very inauspicious start. We had a less than satisfactory night’s sleep as the monastery is on the primary road in and out of the town, and while traffic is minimal, the old city gat is only one car wide, and the traffic light that controls the comings and goings was right outside our window, so there were numerous periods when a vehicle would sit right outside waiting for the lights to change. To add to the discomfort, we must have had the only window without a bug screen, and the mosquitos came and went without paying attention to the red stop light. Next up was stopping for a coffee on the way out, and while the price of a cappuccino was predictably the tourist price – €3 instead of the usual €1.30 – it was the additional fee charged to sit at an outside table. The place wasn’t exactly jumping at 0730 on a Sunday morning. To compound my misery, I later discovered that my sunglasses must have fallen out of my pocket somewhere in the cobblestone lanes. Dang!

After that, things greatly improved. Once the path left the road, we were treated to some beautiful meandering through the Tuscan countryside, all the while being very appreciative of the dry weather, as the packed clay surface would be lethal in the rain. We also happened upon a farmhouse doing double duty as a cafe, so willingly supported the enterprise (and gratefully paid a price much closer to the going rate!)

The ‘normal’ itinerary is to walk from SG to Monteriggioni, but at 32km we figured this a bit challenging, so took the alternate route and stayed the night in Colle di Val d’Elsa. And what a great decision. We booked a hotel online, and for slightly more than the SG Monastery, got a big bed, fluffy towels, and a breakfast buffet fit for the nobles that once inhabited the Palazzo Renieri. The town is a very compact old town on a ridge, and a lower, not quite so old lower town, which can be accessed by a steep path or by an elevator. As we get lots of exercise, we chose the latter, and entered a town jammed with a Sunday market selling everything from food, used books and clothing, live animals, pony rides, and a vintage & veteran car display. Every street and square was taken up with stalls. It was amazing. I also discovered that 5e town also had a Decathlon store, and while it was not exactly central, I made the trek out to it to replace my sunglasses, and bought Susan a decent pair while I was out there. I’ve now shopped at Decathlon in four countries, but not yet in Canada.

Dinner was in the lower town at a pizza restaurant that had won awards in competition. And yes, the pizza was very good, and we were the only tourists – not just at the restaurant but maybe in the entire town it seemed – so we paid local prices!

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