San Gimignano’s towers can be seen from miles away. It was known as the “Medieval Manhattan” because it had hundreds of towers once upon a time and now there are less than ten or so. (Ok fact check: of the original 72 towers in the fourteenth century, only 14 remain today.) People used to live in these towers- their workshop was at the bottom and home as you went up. It sounds like Manhattan I guess – storefronts at the bottom and apartments on top.
You have to walk through three giant walls before you reach the actual town. It’s quite impressive when you walk through. I must admit I was a little distracted on my way in though because I was looking for the “world champion” of gelato shop! I was trying really hard to remember the instructions on how to get to this shop? Something about passing the third gate…and yet I still ended up getting lost (and stumbling on an amazing view!) and at the wrong gelato shop!
I stood in line for “the best ice cream in the world” and ordered my gelato. As I walked out of the shop and took my first bite, I saw the actual famous gelato store directly in front of me with an even longer line! I had to have it! I didn’t come all this way to miss out on this! But I had this massive gelato from the not famous shop in my hands that I couldn’t possibly hold while standing in the line for gelato. I didn’t want to be judged! I wandered around the Piazza della Visterna and ate small bites of my quickly melting gelato. There were so many people, I couldn’t just throw this whole thing out. Finally I found a smaller piazza and a trash can with few people around. I stood next to it and pretended to eat my gelato. For every bite I ate, I threw out two. I felt so guilty but I had to make room for the real thing. I hope no one saw what I did….I really didn’t want people to see me as the fat and wasteful American!
Once it was gone, I stood in the line for Sergio Dondoli’s world famous Gelateria Dondoli. While in line, Sergio came out and greeted everyone. He asked if I was German. This was the second time on this trip I was mistaken for German. Weird. I finally ordered my gelato and it was totally worth it. The “wrong” one I had earlier was creamy and the right one was silky and light.
After I completed my exhausting gelato mission, I made my way to the Piazza Duomo and stumbled into this hill/park area, Parco della Rocca. At one end of this hill was the remains of a watch tower with amazing views. At another end was the fortress, Rocca di Montestaffoli.
The highlights of San Gimignano were the stunning views of Tuscany from all sides of the city and the world champion gelato,of course!