Thursday, October 6, 2004
Today we were driving to San Gimiagno, which mean we were taking exactly the same road we’d taken yesterday (minus the hilly shortcut) through Volterra. Fortunately it’s a pretty drive! We got pulled over by an Italian police officer at the turn to San Gimiagno but hewaved us on as soon as he looked in the car and saw that we were tourists with kids. A few minutes later we passed a prison, so my guess is they were looking for an escapee. We reached San Gimiagno, parked the car, and walked up and up and up. Really good exercise when you’re pushing a stroller!We found the tower that you could climb, which was a bit difficult as the main square was filled with a market. Genevieve was balking at climbing yet another tower, so I went up with Charlotte on my back while Mark tried to cajole her along. After climbing flight after flight of stairs, I was presented with a ladder that led through a hole chipped in the floor of the tower that let you reach the top. It was barely wide enough for me with the backpack, but like I said, I just climbed all those stairs and I really wanted to see the views after all that work. So, wondering if it were wise, I climbed the ladder, scooched out through the tunnel, and crawled under the bell to a place I could stand. It’s really a wonder that Charlotte didn’t bonk her head! The views were worth it, however. The way down was even more tricky, because I had to crawl under the bell and then turn around to get down the ladder without scraping Charlotte off of my back. Some American tourists helped me, thank goodness. I intercepted Mark and Genevieve on the stairs–this was NOT the tower to force her to climb. Mark went up and I took the girls to the museum. Genevieve was fascinated by the bell they had displayed–she knew she couldn’t touch it so she laid down on the floor to look and see if it had a ringer in it. Both of them were good in the museum, and I was amused by Charlotte who said “baby” at every picture of Madonna and Child (and there were a lot). After Mark was done taking some great shots from the tower we went looking for a restaurant for lunch. This wasn’t that easy as there weren’t nearly as many restaurants as you would expect given the number of tourists. Mark spotted a likely establishment, and I peeked in to check it out. It looked too crowded and child-unfriendly to me, so I came out and told him no. Well, Genevieve had followed me in and was turning around to leave when the waitress shoved her out the door! She was shocked and embarrassed and started to cry and it really made me mad! There was no call to do that, Genevieve wasn’t doing anything wrong. Obviously, itwas an unfriendly restaurant. We followed some signs and found a much nicer place, and we reassured Genevieve that the lady was rude and nobody should ever treat anyone that mean. We had a nice lunch. San Gimiagno is crawling with American tourists. For most of our vacation we’d only seen a few, mostly Europeans, so it was strange to go someplace and all of a sudden understand everything everyone is saying. We walked down the main shopping street and then found the small playground near the Rocca. We had gelato in the main square (the market was gone now) next to the same Italian family that had helped Mark carry the stroller up the stairs from the parking lot earlier in the day. After gelato we went to the Medieval fountain down the hill which was very cool, and the same Italian family also came there (the Dad spoke English so we’d been chatting the whole time). Then we climbed the steep hill back to the road that took us to our car, and back down all of the stairs to the lot. We tried a different way home, thinking that the thick orange lines meant a freeway-type road but it was another two-lane traffic-circle through-towns thing, although it did hook up to a freeway fairly soon, and we got this great picture of San Gimiagno on the way out. (Right before we leave I finally figure out our map. Thick orange line = main road. Thick orange line with thin black line through it = freeway or tangenzale. Autostrada is pink, and yellow dots are toll exits which are few and far between meaning you usually have to either get off way early or backtrack quite a bit). We got on the Autostrada and stopped at the Autogrill for sandwiches to eat at home so we wouldn’t have to cook. Got the kids fed, bathed and put to bed, and relaxed a bit ourselves.