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Italian Living

George Keeling | Tue 05 Jan 2016

Renaissance Tuscany – 30th March – 6th April 2011

I had heard that Michelangelo said the good wine of San Gimignano “kicks, bites and thrusts”. It also acts like a leaden weight when climbing to Montecatini Alto the following morning.

Lying outstretched on its sunny slope the piazza in the old town wisely sacrifices urbanity for charm. We took a much needed coffee there, before setting off on a circular walk though the countryside. Peter planned the timing so that just as I and my stomach were thinking about grumbling, we were back at this restorative spot again. A couple of churches, an old castle and plenty of views complete the town.

I climbed the hill four times, each was a pleasure and each was easier than the last.

After a day sightseeing the idea had been floated on the way back in the train. It seemed too much trouble then. Back at the hotel I felt a wimp and a fool. I donned my boots and headed for path that runs alongside the funicular railway. Luckily the hill had shrunk and it wasn’t long before I was nearly at the top.

Meeting M just where the alternative route down branches off saved me the last few yards, and her company was the perfect complement to a delightful walk.

When, later in the week, three of us set out to conquer the mountain again we could have chatted non-stop if we hadn’t had to pause at a few of the Stations of the Cross, which were thoughtfully placed along our way.

After dinner on the penultimate night we took the funicular. No one should miss a digestivo on the Piazza Giusti, the distant lights of Montecatini Terme and valley of Arno – or the night train home!

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