Day five has been a bit of a fail on our part. Not being true Italianos we do not nap during siesta time, we tend to do the British thing of leaving the house around 9.30 and spending the day out, returning home at around 5.30 or 6. This, be warned dear reader, is NOT the way to do things in Italia! Here you wake at the craic, you do your chores close to home. You return to bed around 1.30 when everyone siestas. Life does then not resume again until around 4.30pm and parties on until around 10pm, unless of course it is carnival time and then you boogie until dawn and the cycle begins again.
This, you would think, is not an issue, but, with small British kids in tow, a siesta is out of the question due to small people’s needs to ask continual impossible questions and poke you in the eyeballs as you pretend to be asleep; as are ‘really early starts’ (this is primarily due to teens needing to sleep and small girls taking forever to get out of the house, then needing to return back to go for a wee as they forgot!). Today we decided to visit San Gimignano or as we’d renamed it, Chimichangas! Given quite a lot of space in the guidebook and described as a medieval city of skyscrapers with the best ice creamery in the world, we thought that we’d pay it a call. Unbeknownst to us, our guidebook has obviously been translated into at least 4 million languages and that small 2 inches of write up in Italy with Kids is like the touch paper to a fire. Leaving here around 9.30am we meandered round the hairpin bends at a leisurely pace (frankly, if we’d not gone at a leisurely pace, we’d have ended up rolling back down the mountain sides). On our arrival in San Gimignano we discovered that every car park was full in the whole town bar ‘3’ spaces in one of the car parks! Yet again we were learning why the majority of cars in this part of Italy are no bigger than a Fiat Panda and have as many dents as a colander has holes. We knew that to fight against the rest of the planet to visit this town in a car the size of a minibus was not going to happen. We drove to a small village 1.5 miles out of San Gimignano to the advertised ‘Park and Ride’, only to sit and wait in the deserted car park, too scared to put our money into the automated ticket machine to buy our bus tickets as we’d not seen a single person this far out, let alone a bloody bus, Peartree Park and Ride this ain’t! We drove back up to the town and circled a couple of times just in case Lady Luck decided to smile on us, however, today she decided to fart.
Lesson learned: to ensure that we get up at the craic if we want half a chance of parking anywhere and to take the scenic route HOME from places and the fast route TO places.
Instead we took a similar leisurely meander back down the same mountains, stopped for lunch at an Agricturismi with an amazing view of the town we so nearly visited, stopped at an organic wine and oil tasting farm to sample lovely Chianti and peppery olive oil with a farmer’s wife with bright red hair (not that her hair was remotely relevant, except it looked awesome!), tried to take some relatively convincingly alive photos of end of season sunflowers, got stung by a wasp (not me, Mr Beehive!), tried to get diesel for the car from antiquated self-service machines that didn’t take any of our cards, so we could only fill up 30 Euros worth of fuel as that was all we had on us in cash, and ended up back where we started some 8 hours earlier.
Tomorrow we intend an early start to visit Montalcino’s Friday market. I think, learning from experience, we will leave before the cockerel crows as whatever parking spaces there may be, are likely to be taken up by market vendors! We are also praying that the fact that this town is NOT in bold in our guidebook may be an indicator that it is less touristic, however, the alarm clock is set as we’re not taking any chances…in fact we may even drive over tonight and sleep out in our sleeping bags just to make sure ;-)