Friday, July 29, 2011

My birthday! ...and more cinghiale!

My birthday was a fabulous day! We all took a day trip to see San Gimignano and Josh surprised me with a trail ride through the vineyards overlooking the city! I had been requesting that we go riding in Tuscany for a long time and Josh surprised me with that. He's so thoughtful J

the paparazzi was out that morning

The day was another amazingly beautiful day in Italy, the land of sun! Although, it was really hot and we were struggling to stay cool in San Gimignano. This city is so fun! It is one of Josh’s favorite cities and definitely climbed my list of favorites as well!! San Gimignano is a medieval hill town, complete with city walls and medieval architecture. The town is famous for its towers and 14 of them still stand today. They have been preserved and are now a symbol of the town. During its splendor in the late 1100’s there were more than 70 towers standing! The higher the tower, the wealthier you were. “My tower is bigger than your tower!”

enjoying the view

Sweaty cinghiale!

One of the towers is open to tourists and is part of the Palazzo Comunale, so we decided to climb up to the top. Inside there were a lot of rooms in the palace that were turned into a museum with medieval artwork and alters. The palace is right off of one of the main squares outside of the duomo and was built in the late 13th century. The tower was completed in 1300 and is 54 meters tall (the tallest tower in town). The tower windows were completely covered up with sheets of plastic (even though there were bars on them). So,there was no air coming in to cool off the tower. By the time we reached the top we were all a little sweaty and thankful for fresh air! Somehow during the climb James turned out to be a sweaty cinghiale!! Being the good sport that he is, he allowed us to take pictures of him as a sweaty cinghialeJ

the stairs on the way down
After cooling off, taking some photos and enjoying the view, it was time to head back down the tower and meander through the streets of the town. There are some great shops where you can buy cheese, cinghiale sausage (which is fantastic!!), and other fun hand painted things. We purchased a new olive oil pourer that was much needed! We tossed ours before moving to Italy- we didn’t realize how much we would miss it!! Josh and James also went to the Museum of Torture while Sofia and I shopped. Don’t be fooled, there are a few museums of torture in San Gimignano, but only one is worth going to (according to Josh). They spent some time looking at all of the medieval torture devices (which would have given me nightmares) and Josh took TONS of pictures (I'll refrain from posting them...). Yikes.

Cinghiale! This shop had some great cinghiale sausage 

After all of that excitement, it was time to go horseback riding! We drove about ten minutes outside of San Gimignano to the agritourismo that had the horses, and we were off. It was a beautiful ride and it was much cooler outside of the city. I hadn’t been on a horse in years, but it was like riding a bike. Just hop back on and it all comes back to you! It makes me want to find a place in Milan where I can take lessons again. That is one thing that I really miss!! We had a great time and it was Josh’s first time on a horse. He did a great job in an English saddle! There was no horn for Josh to hold on to. It was a great birthday present!! Thank you sweetie!!  In addition to that… Josh also surprised me with the knowledge that I could pick out a pair of shoes at Ferragamo for my birthday! So, we planned on stopping by Ferragamo in Rome to see what they had to offer. That man spoils me J

and they're off!

Thank you!

On our way back to the b&b from the trail ride we stopped at a fun town for a few pictures, and then took some time to get cleaned up before dinner. We decided on dinner at the b&b and it was great! There was great food, great company, great scenery… It was perfect. And Josh brought out a bottle of my favorite wine, Tignanello!! They even had a little cake for me! After I blew out my candles everyone eating dinner started clapping. I was pretty embarrassed!! But we had a great conversation (in Italian!) with the table next to us. Thank you to Sofia for translating a few words!! I guess that having Spanish as your native language helps you to better understand Italian J

Sun flowers and San Gimignano

outside of the fun town we found

All in all, it was a fantastic birthday and definitely my favorite birthday so far! Thanks to Josh for organizing everything and to James and Sofia for celebrating with me!


Next stop: Rome!


  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAREN! I'm really enjoying your stories of Italy and delighted that you and Josh are having so much fun.


    Jo, Mike's Mom

  2. What a great day! Man was I sweaty! Nasty cinghiale!