Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lost In Medieval Times.....In Tuscany's Hill Towns

Today we took yet another step back in time and climbed high into Certaldo, one of Tuscany's most charming hill towns. Definitely off the beaten path and much less touristy than some of the others, it is literally a tiny village where time has stood still. This tiny hamlet in the heart of the Elsa Valley it sits between Siena and Florence. The name Certaldo in Latin translates to, "a rise covered in oak trees," where it's origins date back to Etruscan times.

Certaldo Alta From A Distance


Walls Of The City


Quiet Streets...Yes People Do Live Here





Frescoes Everywhere






While is was easy enough to find the lower more modern part of the town the upper part was another story.  We could see it perched high up on the hillside with it's church towers, turrets and ancient walls but how to get there...hmmmm?  From a distance we spotted a "funicular," or cable car to the top but even finding that was impossible.  Finally I spotted a familiar brown sign that said, "centro alta," meaning the high part of the historic city so up we went.

Cute Planter


















Birthplace of the  famous Tuscan writer Giovanni Boccaccio author of the Decameron and The Life Of Dante whose house is now a museum in the town. We strolled along the almost vacant cobblestoned streets, breathing in the fumes of yesteryear.  Since we were there during mid-day most all of the shops were closed for that long 2-3 hour Italian lunch break.  This gave the place an even eerier feel or maybe it was just that we couldn't find an open gelato shop and were having sugar withdrawals? Whatever the case may be it was a delightful town to visit.  From the old churches to a grand old palace and finally to Boccaccio's house it was a pleasant few hours.  And wherever there are stairs leading up we climb, to yet another tower giving us another breathtaking view of the Tuscan hillside. Fortunately for me my witty husband always knows where we parked the car.  Today according to him our landmark was simply that we parked next to the olive trees, which were next to the vineyards.....which of course are EVERYWHERE in Italy!

Last weekend we headed over to San Gimignano, a more touristy hill town that features about a dozen towers, an old castle and hoards of tourists.  We went from one parking lot to another, and three or four more before realizing there were no free spots left.  We gave up and decided to return on a weekday hoping for less of a crowd. Today we headed there first hoping that the cloud cover would discourage visitors which did seem to work.  We managed to find parking pretty easily and began our climb to the top of the walled city. We walked the narrow streets, browsed through the shops and stopped for a large quarter of a pizza slice of pizza and a drink for just 5 euros each. Since take away is the more economical way to go in Europe we found a seat amid the pigeons on the church steps.  As we ate we did some people watching and avoided being stepped on by the bouncing kids that were tormenting the pigeons nearby while their parents ignored them.



San Gimignano















An Old Blacksmith's Shop




Back at the casa we cooked up some fresh spinach and cheese ravioli with Clyde's home made tomato sauce and leftover chicken. We added some wine and fresh baked bakery bread before relaxing for the evening.  Another tiring day of climbing hills, exploring castles and living like Italians.....along the gringo trail.

Terry and Clyde are able to "Travel The World House Sitting"  and so can you!  We have created a website to help people who want to learn about house sitting.    Information for both the prospective house sitter and for someone who needs a house sitter.

the New Website                          -->  CLICK HERE

How to Get Your First House Sit -->  CLICK HERE

How to find a house sitter          ---->  CLICK HERE

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