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Published: October 16th 2013
Lari & San Gimignano in Tuscany Region Italy 11 & 12 October 2013
After leaving Florence we headed for something that the Tuscany Region is famous for – a pasta factory. We had read that the oldest pasta factory was in Lara which was about 45 kms S-W of Florence.
The Martelli Family established the Past Factory in 1926. It is a quiet little town in the Tuscany Region. We parked our motor home and walked to the centre of the town, asking locals where the factory was. Of course everyone knew where it was. We were directed down a little lane and a lady who was hanging out from a 1st
floor window told us to know on a particular door. There was no result so she shouted out “Lucca” several times. After awhile, this man appeared in the doorway and introduced himself as Lucca. I asked him if he was a Martelli, and he was. In fact he was the grandson of the man who started the factory.
Lucca showed us the ingredience of the past (duran wheat and water!!!!) and how the past was made. It is a pretty simple process. We then said goodbye
and headed for the shop that sold his past. We bought some spaghetti and some local “Hare & Tomato Sauce”.
We then drove through the magnificent Tuscany landscape, again in beautiful sunlight. We stopped several time to take photos.
After 35 kms of meandering through little villages and over gentle hills, we arrived at the walled town of San Gimignano. It is a town of 7770 people and is known for its 15 towers which were built by different families in the early 1200s. Building a tower taller that you neighbour became a popular way for the town’s prominent families to flaunt their power and wealth. There used to be 72 towers.
In 1348 a plague wiped out much of the population and weakened the local economy.
Today it is a very popular tourist destination. The town’s streets have many little shops displaying lovely crockery, olivewood products, leather goods, cheeses and meats, and of course many wine outlets, all local made from grapes from the Tuscany Region.
When we were trying to find a park and saw many signs “No Campers”, we spotted a man on a scooter who told us to follow him. He
took us to the Santa Chiara Camping site which provided hourly free shuttle bus service back into San Gimignano. That sounded a good deal to us so we booked in, hooked up to power and then caught the 5.30pm shuttle bus into San Gimignano.
We fell in love with this walled city straight away. Wandering from street to street, occasionally ducking into little shops for a look. We were looking for a particular shop which Kerrie had gone to when she was here 6 years ago. It sold goods made out of olivewood. We think it had moved position but it was the same owners. It also sold large serving plates with very distinctive Tuscany patterns – beautiful.
We then found a little restaurant and have a crisp local white wine with bread and a chili dip – lovely. The décor in these places were so interesting.
We then went back to the meeting place to catch the last shuttle service back to the camp site but we had missed it. No problems – we walked the 2km distance back to the camper, admiring the countryside as we went. It is like the Barossa Valley but with
much older buildings. Beautiful!!
We had dinner back at the camper.
The next morning we caught the shuttle bus back into the town. It had rained on and off during the night but as soon as we walked around the town for 5 minutes, it stopped. Tom & I decided to look at different parts of the town. I looked at a couple of the churches, wandered through many of the little streets where locals lived, visited the Vine Museum (which was closed so couldn’t go in) and then popped into several little shops. It was lovely wandering.
We then caught the shuttle back to Camp and drove off towards Siena. On the way we drove through Colle di Val dElsa which was yet another walled city – they are everywhere in Italy – beautiful!
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