Best of Tuscany

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December 28th 2013
Published: June 3rd 2014
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I love basking under winter sun. It’s like hanging out under bright sun but with air conditioner. Very different experience vs trying to sunbathe in tropical climate – you’ll swim in your own sweat. I’m in Siena now – and loving it more than I thought I would. Siena is sooo pretty with its medieval charm. It’s so small that you can just walk everywhere. People lounging at the shell-shaped-slanted Piazza del Duomo as at the beach but the main attraction here is not the sea, rather the Palazzo Pubblico – Siena’s city hall for over 800 years. If you happened to come in the summer, the famous horse race Il Palio is held here twice a year.

Of course, do not miss the Siena Duomo. People said it’s the prettiest cathedral in Italy. Well, perhaps I’ve seen too many churches and cathedrals by now – all just jumbled up in my head and I don’t see vast differences; but I surely enjoy the clear blue sky – a rare treat in the middle of winter.

I continue to navigate through the narrow lanes, going down the Siena Duomo’s marble steps. I stopped by some souvenir shops – Tuscany have one of the best postcard collection I’ve seen in Europe. It displayed how Tuscany landscape changes over seasons – in my heart I said to myself, I wouldn’t mind coming back. In fact, I would love to come back.

Unfortunately my love affair with Siena was cut short; I had to join the Walkabout tour group to the next destination. Outside the city wall, I saw bunch of SITA bus – which shuttle from Florence to Siena vice versa within an hour or so, just for 7.8 euro. Definitely much cheaper than my 85 euro day trip (which is already discounted 5 euro by using code WA1224 in But there’s a reason why I took a tour group today; I don’t have much time & joining one of these tours are the most time-effective option. Well, you just can’t win them all.

For lunch, we stopped by this local farm where they made everything for lunch today – from the bread, pasta, olive oil, ham and three types of wine. I stick with plain water but I do enjoy their tomato based pasta and roast potato. In fact, that was the best roast potato I’ve had in my life! Seriously! Although the farm was a bit smelly, the backyard provide a very commanding view of rolling Tuscany hills with the shadow of San Gimignano medieval towers. Somehow there are roses at the garden & some blossoming canola field on the way that I saw which confused me whether this is winter or summer in disguise.

Next – San Gimignano! This is random, but I’ve always want to travel to a place that I can’t pronounce properly and San Gimignano fits the bill. But beyond the name – it is another charming Tuscan town. It preserves dozen of its tower houses with fine balance of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. Everything was brown & not being plaster. I also noticed holes on the walls where birds came in & nest. FYI, this town also houses the best gelato shop in the world (they actually won an award for it) – but unfortunately it was closed during winter.

Last stop is Pisa – which obviously most famous out of the three. It was a cloudy sunset when I was there but then ended up to give a nice blue hour effect. Apparently Pisa’s Cathedral Square comprise not only the leaning tower, but also a baptistery & a cathedral. The logic back then was the cathedral can only be entered by baptized people; so they segregate the baptistery. Nowadays tourist come in not to get baptized but to hear the amazing acoustic in the building. Sandra the tour guide gave a good tips to go to the ticket office and ask for a free ticket to the Pisa cathedral (yes, free ticket which somehow you have to take and show at the gate). I didn’t opt to go up to the Pisa tower but the queue is quite long so worth booking in advance if you’re up for it. While making that cliché I’m-pushing-the-tower pose, make sure you’re still careful with your belonging as there are many pickpockets lurking for ignorant tourists. Apparently there’s a small surprise at the end. Rather than being rushed back to the bus – we were told to take small choochoo train instead for a mini tour of the Pisa city. It was nice, although personally – Siena is the only town out of the 3 which I would consider to spend the night at.

Overall, it has been a great & enjoyable day hopping around few Tuscany towns. Yes I only got few hours of each, but it’s better than staying back home watching youtube reruns. If I ever got the chance to redo Italy again – I would base myself in Florence and explore (and savor) Tuscany region more. Looking forward to that day. I’ll just have find a way to convince my dear husband that Italy’s beauty is worth taking the risk of getting pickpocketed.

For more of my pictures click HERE, for my hotel & restaurant reviews click HERE.

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3rd June 2014

Great photos!
This is so much better than the corny, holding-up the tower ones--good show! And yes, I like Sienna best of those three one, but aren't they all gorgeous!

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