San Gimignano – Our Little Hilltop Home in Italy

Outside of the first and last nights we spent in Rome, we stayed the entire weeek in a lovely little apartment inside the walls of a medieval hilltop town – San Gimignano. The town is somewhat insignificant, historically, however by keeping low-key over the centuries it was able to remain structurally intact.  The town today is known for it’s many remaining towers, and I can’t remember anything else about it’s history … but they had some great gelato options, wine stores, little shops – what more could a honeymooning couple need?

We stayed in the Fattoria Guicciardini apartments, which were right inside the wall of the town and had a lovely courtyard. The apartment was stocked and the windows (fully equiped with throw-open shutters) looked out into a little road with shops and a small wine bar below.

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San Gimignano 1After seeing that last photo I’m reminded of all the old men who lived in this town. They’d walk around together all day, talking and arguing, then at night they sit together along the side of the road in little huddles eating gelato while they talked.

Here are some photos of the wall that surrounds San Gimignano, some areas around town town, and a few photos from the top of one of their tallest towers – which was the most terrifying of all the tower-climbs we did on this trip (who on earth thought it was a good idea to make the stairs see-through?) but well worth the view from the top!

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One night we had a real Italian night, after eating our weight in pasta and drinking enough wine to ensure a great time, we found this group of old men screaming at a soccer game. Perfect setting for eating our nightly gelato and pretending like we knew what was going on around us.

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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – the Rest of Rome

Who needs a nap when you’re in Italy? After the Colosseum we just powered through the rest of the day, staying up until the wee hours (maybe 9:30 – wild!) to get in everything we wanted to see. Do I recommend this? No. Would I do it this way again? Yes. After it was all over, it was nice to have said “been there, done that,” so we could get on to the more important parts of our honeymoon – wine and gelato.

For some reason I have yet to figure out, Kyle really wanted to see this fountain while we were in Rome. We got lost a handful of times on our way to find it, but once we did it was worth the trek (actually, I was in a haze of starvation and have no idea what it was like)! The Trevi Fountain‘s legend is that if you toss a coin in, you’ll be “ensured” another trip to Rome… we didn’t toss a coin in, I was too hungry and angry at Rome for making me walk so far to get here.

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After some dinner, I was in a better mood. After getting lost a handful of times (transitioning from a cell phone GPS to using a paper map in Italian is not as easy as we thought it would be) we had finally found the Spanish Steps. It was pretty cool and fun to sit and eat gelato while watching the men trying to sell laser pointers, flowers, and squeaky toys incessantly to anyone and everyone on the steps.

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Oh, and this was the first of MANY street cleaners we saw though out our trip. The Italians apparently take the cleanliness of their city streets quite seriously. I appreciate it. DSC_0502

After sleeping like babies, we got up and tried to make the most of our last few hours in Rome before we needed to head out. We had a fantastic breakfast with a view at our hotel, and then went on the rooftop with the camera, a tripod and the super-zoom lens to see what all we could capture of the city.   DSC_0521 DSC_0522 DSC_0536 DSC_0537 DSC_0567*

Across the street from the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, which is where we spent the morning. It was really neat but the entire time we kept asking “why didn’t anyone clean this junk up?” (just kidddddddingggggg…. but seriously, anyone else been and thought that too?).

There were some great views of the Colosseum, in case we hadn’t gotten enough pictures the day before.

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DSC_0591Goodbye Rome! We’re off to San Gimignano for the week.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – the Colosseum

Since our hotel was right next to Vatican City, our original plan was to take it easy on our first day and only see thing in that area (which includes: the Vatican and St. Peter’s), but we were so full of adrenaline it was decided that we must first head straight to the Colosseum and then do ALL of our Rome-sites in the next 24 hours, because, you know, it might not be there when we get back… in a week.

First, here are some shots of our first hotel room, at the Atlante Star, it was teeny tiny, but came with window shutters I could literally throw open to a beautiful view – what more could a girl want? Unfortunately Kyle had to deal with me reenacting my vision (where did I get this idea? Beauty and the Beast? Someone help me here).

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On our trip there were a handful of things I had always wanted to see, just to find they aren’t as impressive in real-life as they were in books and on Rick Steves. The Colosseum though, was every bit as impressive in person as you’d expect. It’s huge and it’s old, and they let people walk all over it and touch EVERYTHING (seriously, I could sit and touch anything I could reach). Where else can you go and touch something that was built in the first century AD?

Kyle and I were so overwhelmed (and in need of a non-public restroom) we stopped for a beer before going in. In Italy when you order a drink they always bring you a little snack! Sometimes it’s just chips or nuts, but often it’s both or something else completely.

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… this was “not crowded” due to being the offseason …

The line to get into the Colosseum was pretty long, so we skipped it by signing up for a tour – it was definitely worth the extra 5 Euro and learned a few facts we didn’t know going into it. One interesting point I remember – gladiators rarely fought to the death,  this is just something that’s played up in movies/TV.

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And, that’s it for the Colosseum!