Discovering Toscana: Skip San Gimigniano and Head Instead to Chianni
After all the rain and storms, we finally woke up to a sunny morning, dived in a refreshing pool (best camping ever!), had coffee and proceeded on our way. The scenery transformed amazingly: the green orchards burdened with heavy grapes were glowing beautifully in the sun, the hills were undulating softly all around us and, here and there on their very tops, a tiny town was guarding it’s surrounding valleys.
Our first intended stop was San Gimigniano, a little town known mostly for it’s high towers. We knew it was quite popular, but never expected to be so overcrowded and suffocating. The traffic was pure chaos and there was no possible spot to stop the car, not even in the restricted areas – everything was filled up and torrents of insatiable tourists where pouring from everywhere and heading to the same place. We decided to admire it from afar and head further away from the crowds. The perks of traveling during high season, meh.
But it was the best decision ever! Instead of wasting time to make our way through the tons of visitors and only get pissed off, we had this other little town all for ourselves: Chianni.
Not the most easy to get to, but definitely worth it. The views to and from it are breathtaking, the streets are cute and feel unspoiled by tourists, plus we got there at mid-day and it was almost empty. The houses seemed to be sleeping and every street was joyfully decorated for a local festivity that already took place. Also, how the heck can those tiny Fiats climb such steep streets?!
We wanted to have lunch at the main restaurant Le Vecchie Cantine, but it was closed until dinner, so we had to find alternatives. Soon we found the local bar, the only place filled with people (90% just elder men) & noise. We had some sandwiches and pies while watching the elder men play cards, shouting in Italian to cover the loud news on TV.
This was better than any fancy lunch at a restaurant and I wish we had stayed more there. Chianni seems like the perfect town to chill out, take long trips around the surrounding hills, have great wine every evening and generally enjoy life slowly. Maybe also write. Yes, feels like it’s the perfect town for a writer to hide away from all the buzz of the touristic places.