The Norwegian Epic is docking in Livorno today which is the closest port to Florence and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I woke up early but my sisters were already up and at breakfast with our brother because of an early tour time.
They were touring with ItalyTours.Eu to the above cities. After they left I went to breakfast at Taste and enjoyed that beans/chorizo special I had ordered on Monday.
I’d been wanting to go San Gimignano ever since we missed it on our tour in 2015 in favor of a visit to the Uffizi. Our tourmates had raved about the optional excurion.
Since no one organized a trip from our roll call I booked the very expensive ship’s excursion.
I got to the Epic Theater fifteen minute early but they called our excursion right at 9 am. I was surprised to see only 20 people in our group but that was probably due to the cost of $219 per person.
As we headed out on the two hour plus drive to San Gimignano our guide, Anna Maria, introduced her self and our driver Antonio. She had one bottle of water for each of us and handed out a map of the town that had her phone number on the back.
We stopped after 90 minutes at a cafe where we could use the bathrooms and were encouraged to buy something in exchange for using the facilities. Many bought a coffee but I had delicious cookies for 1 euro.
The scenery during the drive was just incredible. Tuscany is the most beautiful area I’ve seen in Italy.
It was another 45 minutes before we were left off by San Gimignano. We were led from a parking area to the gate a walk of 1/4 mile away.
Apparently San Gimignano is on the Via Francigena which is an ancient pilgrim trail to Rome.
I’m not sure how old the walls of the city are but the foundation of San Gimignano date back to ancient times.
The gate in the photo was built in the 13th century. Once through Anna Maria walked us to the church and along the way pointed out:
- A leather shop that gives cruise passengers 20% off
- The shop that offers samples of the cheese/meat before you select your purchase
- The best shop for gelato
I left her there and got in line for gelato. It was a long line filled with visitors from all over but moved quickly.
I had the blueberry ricotta with my favorite pistachio in a cup. It was so good and as you can see Gelateria Dondoli has been crowned world champions more than once!
Then it was time to explore the town. It was very crowded; besides the pilgrims was a market set up the church square which made taking pictures and moving around difficult.
The town was not as quaint as Civita di Bagnoregio but that’s the difference between a town that’s still living and one that is on it’s last days.
Despite the crowds it was possible to find yourself nearly alone on side streets.
This thousand year old building was once a church (notice the Celtic style cross).
Despite the many, many stores selling all kinds of wares I just bought a trip to the restroom (1 euro) and a print of the town in multiple seasons.
After this purchase, I continued walking down the main street to the gate.
There was time for a selfie with the fantastic scenery before we all met at 1 pm and walked back to the bus parking area to head to the San Donato farm.
I’ll continue the day in another post.
If you missed the other parts of the recap the links are below.
Next Vacation: Barcelona and Norwegian Epic
Barcelona Flights and Lodging Plans
Norwegian Epic: Port Call Plans
Traveling to Barcelona
Barcelona Day 1
Cava Winery Tour/Taste
La Sagrada Familia
Epic Embarkation Day
Epic Sea Day
An Epic Visit to Naples
Two Epic Hilltop Towns
Specialty Dining: Moderno