After spending three wonderful nights with Gadgets 2nd cousin in Arrezzo we moved to his 2nd Cousins house in the town of San Giovanni. Again we were met with great enthusiasm, by not only the immediate relative but by all of his family including his mother in law. We entered an extremely busy household probably not unsimilar to our own. I volunteered and was quickly put to work in the kitchen ,which was great, along side the matriarch of the household and as a result have now gathered even more wonderful recipes to try out in my kitchen when I get home. Again we ate like kings and I am still totally amazed that I can still fit into my jeans ( only just ) the food was soooo good that it was very hard not to have seconds, or thirds..... LOL
Was founded in around 1296 by the Republic of Florence. back during the medieval times in Tuscany ( and probably all of Italy and for that case anywhere in the world) it was all about power and land ownership. So San Giovanni was built as a walled city and was part of Florence, where as later I will talk about a place that was under the protection of Siena.
This is the town centre, here there is a wonderful little church and a very cute little museum with a lovely painting of the annunciation.
The other side of the town square. Whilst the town centre was not huge it had some lovely shops and the locals seemed to be very friendly.
We then visited some of the youngest members of the family and I got to have some baby snuggles . . . Then after a wonderful lunch we headed off to visit the town of Radda in the area of Chianti, unfortunately the weather finally gave up on us and we had our first serious storm , including hail, the first in our whole trip.
The beautiful views , albeit with rain and storm clouds from Radda.
However as they say every cloud has a silver lining and this one definitely did. Gadgets cousin knew the owner of one of the local hotels so we popped in there for a glass of . . . . . What else but Chianti . . . . And as luck would have it, the owner was at the hotel so he took us for a short tour.
We went up to the sitting room, which was totally covered in frescos, on the main wall was the image below.
This fresco was created by the then owner of the villa to celebrate his future marriage, it includes the coats of arms of both families, however the wedding did not go ahead . . The bride discovered that the future groom was having an affair with a married woman with children and called the wedding off but the interesting part of this fresco does not end there.
During world war 2, A German solider was in this room and he had an Italian partisan up against this wall , with a gun to his head . . . . He was trying to get information, after multiple fruitless questioning the Soldier in frustration fired his gun, the bullet whistling past the partisan 's shoulder
He informed the partisan that if he didn't start Talking he would receive the same treatment as the Angel ( look at the above image) . We are unsure of the outcome of this altercation, but let me tell you the Angel took a fairly significant injury.
Is a lovely little walled town in the Provence of Siena, Tuscany. San Gimignano is famous for a few reasons , it's production of saffron, it's lovely white wine , vernaccia, but mainly because of its skyscraper skyline.
This gorgeous medieval village town was renowned for its tower houses. The houses were created to safe guard the wealthy families. With the elevated housing they were able to ensure the were unable to be attacked as they were able to remove the external stairs, ensuring their attackers could not reach the household. Whilst tower houses are not an unusual feature of medieval times, San Gimignano is fortunate in retaining 12 of these architectural gems.
One oft the the tower houses.
The beautiful hills surrounding San Gimignano, this is the moment when you truely know you are in Tuscany.
Whilst visiting San Gimignano we were fortunate to visit the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria
, this lovely little church was filled with the most beautiful frescoes, depicting biblical scenes. I actually had my hand smacked here. I took a photo of an assumption fresco in the portico outside the entry to the church. There were no visible signs indicating that photo s couldn't be taken ( some churches do some don't , as I am currently in Rome I can tell you that taking photos in St Peters Bascilica was totally okay) anyway I was chatted, I apologised and took no further photos.
Despite this I totally enjoyed the church and its murals. We did have audio guides which made the whole experience so much more interesting as it provided an understanding not so much of the images but of the painting techniques and also of the chapels within the church and the different architectural periods.
Below is pretty much just some of the beautiful Tuscany countryside, I wanted to share with you.
The walled Village of
In 1554 the Sienese mistakenly placed control of the town's garrison in the hands of Giovannino Zeti, who had been exiled from Florence, not long afterwards in an act of reconciliation with the Medici family he simply handed over the keys and the Florentine's gained control..
Today Monteriggioni is an excellently preserved example of a medieval fortress. It has a church, several cafes, shops and a museum where you get to try on some armour, I got some great shots of gadget in armour. . . .
We had some super yummy gelato and went for a walk along the wall , you can see the walkway above.
This is the view from the wall.
I had a wonderful time with Gadgets family, They all worked so very hard to provide us with wonderful meals, fabulous experience s but truely the most magical thing was the unconditional love they gave us because we are "family".