5 Things to Do in Cartagena, Colombia

On our whirlwind trip to Colombia, we had the chance to visit Cartagena, but we didn’t have much time to see and do everything the city has to offer. However, here are the top things we recommend from our time there!

Visit the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas – Construction on this Spanish fortress began in 1657 and proved to be impregnable. Though there were many attempts to take the fortress, the fortress’s complex tunnel system helped to ensure the Castillo San Felipe de Barajas was never taken. The tunnels were designed to connect key strategic points of the fortress and reverberate noise long distances both for communication and to hear the enemy coming from far away. You can climb to the top of the fortress and still walk through some of these tunnels today!

 

Walk the Walled City– Visit the heart of Old Cartagena by exploring the Old Town surrounded by the walls. Meandering through the streets you’ll find the 16th century catholic church named Iglesia de San Pedro Claver, a street lined with peddlers of Colombian sweets known as Portal de los dulces and el Torre del Reloj or the clock tower.

 

Visit Las Bovedas or “The Vaults”– Built in the late 1700s, “The Vaults” served as armaments storage for the walled city and then later as a prison. Currently, the area is a thriving artisans’ center and a perfect place to look for handcrafted souvenirs!

 

Explore Getsemani – Getsemani is another neighborhood near Old Town. We wandered the quaint winding streets saying hello to everyone we passed. The neighborhood was full of friendly people and lots of very impressive street art!

 

Visit the beach– While we aren’t typically beach goers, there was no way we could visit the coastal city without visiting the beach. The area we visited was very crowded with people as it was a Colombian holiday weekend. Also beware when visiting a public beach… according to our tour guide, women wander the beach offering to give massages (we were approached within 5 minutes), if you do not want a massage, do not accept a free sample. Supposedly the free sample lasts for maybe 20 seconds and then with the help of a large man they make sure you pay for the rest.

 

While this is no way all the things to do in Cartagena, Colombia, these were the highlights of our short trip there. During our time in Colombia we also visited Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. Check out the 9 things we recommend doing there!

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Celebrating 100 Blog Posts!

As we reach the beginning of February the novelty of the new year starts to wear off, but here at It’s a Schmahl World, we are celebrating a blogging milestone! Today we are posting our 100th post! When we started this blog to write about our travels, we didn’t expect to be where we are today. In this post, we’ll look back at how our lives have changed from being two young professionals working full time to a Peace Corps volunteer and an engineering graduate student.

 

 

Back to where it all began, our first post It’s a Schmahl World after all… published in February of 2016. Both Kim and I were working full time saving up all our paid time off to travel. We went on trips with our family to Washington DC for the 4th of July and a quick trip to Colombia for our first time in South America! Kim was able to go to Europe with her college roommates, 5 years after graduation! Highlights of their two week trip were hiking through Plitvice Park in Croatia, visiting the baths and ruin bars in Budapest, exploring palaces and the opera house in Vienna, and wandering the narrow streets and canals of Venice.

 

 

Occasionally I was lucky enough to travel for work, one time all the way across the globe to Japan for two weeks. For my first time in Asia, I got the chance to attend a festival the small city of Utsunomiya, wander the temples of Nikko and explore parts of Tokyo for a day. I even reached waaayyyy out of my comfort zone to experience a Japanese onsen (or a naked bath house).

 

 

September of 2016 came with an exciting road trip around Iceland’s Ring Road for Nelson and I. We snorkeled between the tectonic plates, hiked on a glacier, saw some amazing waterfalls and last but not least we got engaged! While planning is still in the works over a year later, Nelson and I are finally going to tie the knot in July of 2018.

 

 

Kim was the next to have a major life change when she decided to join the American Peace Corps to teach high school math in Liberia. Before she left we went on one last family vacation to Florida. We made the most of our limited time together exploring Key West, Disney World and the Ringling Museum.

 

 

In June of 2017, Kim packed her bags and began the long journey to Liberia. After a bit of training in Washington DC, they received 3 months of training in the of Kakata, just an hour outside of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Currently she has been teaching at her site for the last 5 months and learning the ins and outs of her community. See all of her updates about living in Liberia here!

 

 

To wrap up our life changes through 100 posts we’ll look at a recent big change in my life. I left my full time job and my first order of business was to go on an amazing week long 10 year friendaversary trip to Tuscany, Italy with two friends from Girl Scouts. I traveled solo for the first time to Copenhagen, Denmark and now after my sabbatical I have started going to school full time to get my masters degree in Mechanical Engineering!

 

 

When we began this blog, we never would have guessed where we’d be now, after 100 posts… who knows where we will be after the next 100 posts, but we are excited to continue the journey!

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Posted in Africa, Asia, Colombia, Copenhagen, Croatia, Denmark, Europe, Eurotrip 2016-Croatia, Vienna, Budapest and Venice, Hungary, Iceland, Japan, Liberia, Nikko, Peace Corps, South America, Tokyo, USA, Utsunomiya, Vienna, Austria, Washington, DC | 1 Comment

Visiting Roskilde: A Day Trip from Copenhagen, Denmark

During my week in Copenhagen, I had a little time left on my 24 hour train pass from the trip to Frederiksborg Castle the day before so I decided to hop on the train from Copenhagen Central Station for the 25 minute ride out to Roskilde. When I arrived I stopped in at the Tourist center for a map of the city then walked around the outside of the Roskilde Cathedral. I opted to tour the inside later since there was a service going on, be sure to check the schedule posted by the door!

After a bit of a hike I made it to the Viking museum. Situated on the waters edge, the Viking Museum houses 5 original Viking ships excavated in 1962 from the Roskilde Fjords. The ships had been decommissioned by the Vikings, filled with rocks and sunk in the water to block the easiest route to the city. Only someone familiar with Roskilde’s waterways would be able to find their way to the city. The ships are all different types ranging from the second longest Viking warship ever discovered to a small simple fishing vessel. The exact history of these ships is difficult to know for certain since not many Vikings were literate. There are tours throughout the day covering the history of the salvaged Viking ships so ask at the ticket kiosk or note the signs around the museum!

The Viking Museum also has an outdoor areas where workers work in the open and in small workshops to create replicas of the salvaged ships. The process to recreate the ships is as similar as possible to how they were originally built by the Vikings. the wood used in the boat is carefully chosen from branches that are similar in shape to that part of the ship and Viking tools such as axes are the only ones used on the recreations. During the summer months you can ride out into the Fjords on the recreations. While that is not an option in the winter, I was able to climb around on the warship replica.

The Viking Museum has a cafe for a lunch break and picnic tables outside to enjoy the (hopefully) nice weather. After refueling I walked along the docks enjoying the gorgeous views across the water and looking at other small viking boat replicas moored along the docks.

Retracing my steps, I headed back to the Roskilde Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The entrance fee is usually 60 DKK (~10USD or 40DKK, ~6.50USD, for students) but I accidentally got there 30 minutes before the cathedral closed so they let me in for free! Thirty minutes is definitely not enough time to explore the massive cathedral but I did my best. For over 1000 years a church has stood at that location. The cathedral also holds the world record for number of royals buried in a single church with 39 Danish kings and queens laid to rest there.

After a little time exploring the town square I hopped on the train back to Copenhagen’s city center. Only 25 minutes away, Roskilde was the perfect trip for day filled with history.

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Visiting Frederiksborg Castle: a Day Trip from Copenhagen, Denmark

To start off my weeklong trip in Copenhagen, I hopped on a 40 minute train ride to the city of Hillerod to see Frederiksborg Castle. The castle was built in the early 17th century by the Danish King Christian IV, and you can see it from all angles walking around the surrounding lake. The castle grounds include a large baroque style gardens, big enough that I was able to explore and take pictures for an hour! There were so many places to get a good view of the castle.

 

A devastating fire in 1859 destroyed much of the original castle but after the restoration headed by J.C. Jacobson the owner of Carlsberg Breweries, the interior was transformed into the Danish National History Museum.  Eighty-five different rooms chronologically display Denmark’s history through portraits and historical paintings from the time periods. The museum catalogs history starting in the 1500s up until present day!

Entrance to the museum costs 75DKK (~12 USD or 60 DKK, ~10 USD if you have a student ID!). One of the first rooms you enter is the chapel, which was celebrating its 400th anniversary. This is one of the only rooms spared from the fire and all the furnishings are original. During the years Denmark had an absolute monarchy (1660-1849) this chapel was used for royal coronations. Every room in the castle was dedicated to a specific time period in Danish history with portraits and pieces of art from the time period. Luckily most rooms also had a laminated informational papers to peruse, providing insight into what happened during the time periods.

After touring the castle, I decided to explore the grounds a bit more. When looking at a map I noticed something marked “Christian IV’s stone” and my curiosity won out. After a few wrong turns I stumpled upon the Bath House Palace, which is occasionally used by the royal family for hunt lunches according to the Visit Copenhagen website. I reoriented myself then finally found the trail to the stone. What I found was a stone that looked like a throne, so naturally I sat in it and took way too many pictures!

With my exploring complete I headed back around the lake via Hunter’s Hill for one last view of the castle. I found a picnic table, the perfect place to have a snack with a view before the train ride back into the city. This was the first of three great day trips out of the city and I was able to save some money by getting a 24 tourist train pass which I used early the next morning to head out to Roskilde!

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Update from Liberia: Happy Holidays!

It’s been a month and a half since my last post from Liberia so it’s time for an update! Here’s what’s been going on this holiday season…

In Liberia, they have Thanksgiving but they celebrate it the first week of November instead of the last week. Here though, the holiday has nothing to do with pilgrims or Native Americans, it is a day to be thankful for your family and friends and everything you have in your life. They don’t have the same tradition of a big thanksgiving dinner here, in fact besides having the day off of school, it felt like any other day.

On America’s Thanksgiving day, my school cancelled classes to have their traditional Old vs New Students day. It was a complete coincidence that it fell on Thanksgiving, but a nice distraction from thinking about the celebration I was missing at home! Though my school has grades 1 to 12, it is the only government high school in the area so many students begin in the 10th grade after finishing middle school at a different school—enough that the students who’ve just come to the school this year can make up the New students team that plays against a team of returning students.

Boys playing football

The day began with a drama (somewhere between a long skit and short play) put on by the 10th graders and then the competitions began. First was quizzing, where the two teams competed to answer trivia questions on different topics from math to geography to current events! Then we went outside for the sports games: boys’ volleyball, girls’ kickball and the grand finale was boys’ football (soccer). I joined in for a little bit of volleyball, recruited by the new students team since I’m a new teacher. It was a fun day, getting to spend time with my students outside of the classroom setting!

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Girls playing kickball

Even though I didn’t celebrate on Thanksgiving Day, I still got my Thanksgiving dinner the weekend after! A group of us Peace Corps volunteers living nearby all got together for thanksgiving dinner in Kakata (the city where we had pre-service training) on the Friday night after. We had some traditional thanksgiving staples: fried chicken (no turkey here), mashed potatoes, corn, garlic bread, pumpkin pie and apple pie turnovers; as well as some local additions: watermelon, papaya (or paw paw as they say here!) and pineapple. It was delicious! And fun to get together with other volunteers…it was an exciting weekend for us in my group because the first 3 months we weren’t allowed to leave our sites for more than just a day trip, so we had just been at site long enough that could stay overnight in Kakata!

 

 

The next morning, we took a day trip to Harbel where the new Farmington Hotel had just recently opened across from the airport. It’s a very nice hotel and the draw for us is the restaurant and the swimming pool. As long as we bought lunch while we were there, they let us swim for free. So we spent the day relaxing at the pool and eating foods that we can’t get at site—I went for the pizza! At the end of the afternoon I went back to my site, it was a fun Thanksgiving weekend!

Pool at the Farmington Hotel

Farmington river

Then we had the last couple of weeks of the second marking period at school. After testing week, I went back to Kakata for LR-7 reconnect training. Everyone in the group that arrived in Liberia this past June was back together at Doe Palace for a week of additional training. We talked about how things are going at our sites, our successes and challenges, both in and out of the classroom. We also had sessions about different projects we can get involved in like malaria, gender, literacy and grant writing. Besides being in sessions, reconnect was a great time to catch up with everyone! I hadn’t seen most of the group since we’d left for our sites in August. I also was able to visit my host family that I’d stayed with during PST!

After Reconnect training, I headed back to site for one last week of school before Christmas break started. It was a quiet week at school, many students (and even several teachers) chose to start their breaks early so by the end of the week my classes were pretty small.

Some of my 11th grade students

For Christmas, I had planned to celebrate Christmas day in my community before heading to the airport to fly to Brussels on the 26th for a week. But just a couple weeks before, it was announced that Liberia’s presidential election runoff vote would be on the 26th. Not wanting to be traveling around during the election, I ended up flying out on Christmas Eve instead. My mom and sister met me there a couple days later for a fun week! More to come about our trip but the highlights include day trips to Bruges and Ghent, exploring Brussels and Belgian waffle and chocolate making workshops!

Now I’m back in Liberia and back to school, getting back into the swing of things here!

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5 Charming Airbnbs in Iceland

For our 8 day trip around Iceland’s Ring Road we spent 5 of our nights in Airbnbs. Airbnbs were a great option for us since there weren’t a lot of hotels/guesthouses for us to choose from along our route. Sorted by city, below are the fantastic Airbnbs we stayed in!
Vik – For our first night outside of Reykjavik, we stayed in a cozy cottage just outside of Vik. The cottage had two rooms and was the perfect size for just the two of us! Our host, Kolla, was very friendly and came by in the morning to see how we were doing and if we needed any help figuring out our days activities!


Eidar – For our 4th night in Iceland we decided to stay near Egilsstadir in north eastern Iceland. Our cabin in Eidar was just 10 minutes from the town and had a nice outdoor sitting area. Our host Gudrun had Icelandic horses that grazed right outside the cabin!


Akureyri– Of all of our Airbnbs the tiny house we stayed in in Akureyri had the best views. Situated just across the water from downtown Akureyri, we had a view of the city and beautiful oceans views. The house was two floors with everything we needed.


Borgarnes – Our stay in Borgarnes was actually at a small campground. We rented a “pod” for the evening. The pod was essentially a higher quality tent. The campground had a restaurant and little kitchen area to cook your food. One unique thing about this campground is the owner wrote a children’s book about trolls and his story is told through large troll figurines throughout the property.


Laugarvatn – After our day going around the Golden Circle, we decided not to head directly back to Reykjavik but to stay the night in Laugarvatn. Margret’s guesthouse was our favorite Airbnb of the trip. The cottage was cozy and full of personal touches by Margret including fresh eggs for breakfast and adorable decorations. Our favorite part of Margret’s place was definitely the hot tub. At night we were able to go out in the freezing temperatures and try to spot the northern lights!

Our trip in Iceland was our first time using Airbnb abroad and it definitely won’t be our last! It allowed us to break up our road trip itinerary to stop where we wanted instead of having to drive further to find a hotel, and we got to stay in some charming places.

For tips to plan your own Iceland Ring Road trip, including how to find your Airbnb, check out our post here!

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Our 4 Day Ireland Itinerary

For our short time in Ireland, we decided to take a tour by  Brendan Vacations (the Irish Jaunt) rather than plan our own vacation itinerary. While we love the freedom to do anything we chose with a do-it-yourself vacation and the lower price tag that usually comes with it, the ease that came with our Brendan Vacation was hard to beat! While the tour we took is no longer available (at least I couldn’t find it on their website), here is how we made the most of our 4 full days in Ireland!

Day 1: Dublin

Our first day in Dublin was full of jet leg, we didn’t have the time or the energy to do everything we would have liked to do in Dublin. That being said, we were still able to see St. Patrick’s Cathedral and wander the courtyards at Trinity College. Trinity College is the home of the 8th century Book of Kells! The Book of Kells is an artistic wonder. It was created over 1,200 years ago and illustrates the 4 gospels of the Christian Bible in medieval fashion. At the end of the day we had drinks with the rest of the people on our tour who we would later explore Killarney and Limerick with!

If we had more time in Dublin we would have loved to visit the Guinness Storehouse. Others in our group went and learned the proper way to poor the perfect glass of Guinness from the tap!

Day 2: Dublin -> Blarney -> Killarney

We left Dublin, made a pit stop for coffee in Cashel before heading to Blarney Castle. Blarney Castle is home to the infamous Blarney Stone. Kissing the stone gives anyone the gift of eloquence or never being at a loss for words. Read our post on Blarney Castle here!

We ended our day in Killarney leaving plenty of time to explore and hit the pubs to try true Irish Guinness and my new favorite Bulmers, an Irish cider!

Day 3: The Ring of Kerry

For our third day we started and ended in Killarney. Our bus took us around the Ring of Kerry stopping occasionally for photo ops along the way.

Next we stopped at Killarney National Park. The park is 26,000 acres (or ~40 square miles) so there was no way we could see everything in such a short time. However we were able to see the Muckross House and gardens. The house was owned by the wealthy someone and someone Herbert and they originally started the gardens in preparation for the a visit from Queen Victoria. Another highlight from Killarney National Park was the almost 80 feet tall Torc Waterfall.

Back in Killarney, we went to dinner at Molly Darcy’s Pub and Restaurant and got to see some traditional Irish barrel dancing while we ate!

Day 4: Killarney-> Cliffs of Moher -> Limerick

For our last full day in Ireland, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which were simply gorgeous. There are paths to walk along the cliffs that are easily accessible as well as an information center with a restaurant close by. Even if you don’t know the cliffs by name, many people will recognize them from the movies Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince or the Princess Bride!

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We stayed in Limerick for our last night, eating dinner downtown then enjoying the night life with friends we met in our tour group.

We flew home on our fifth day in Ireland. Although we weren’t in Ireland for very long, we were very happy with all the things were were able to fit into such a short time. We can’t wait to visit again, hopefully with a little more time!

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Kiss the Blarney Stone: Cork, Ireland

On our quick trip to Ireland a couple summers ago, we stopped in Cork to visit Blarney Castle,  home of the Blarney Stone! The Blarney Stone is also known as the Stone of Eloquence and rumor has it, anyone who kisses the stone will never again be at a loss for words and will have an exceptional gift for flattery. The exterior of the castle and the grounds were simply gorgeous and included something you don’t see every day, a poisonous plants garden! In the surrounding area there are shops to pick up any souvenirs from your trip.

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In order to kiss the stone you have to stand in a fairly long line.  Luckily, the line doesn’t seem as long since it takes you winding throughout the castle interior and there are informational signs along the way. If you are on the taller side like me (~6ft), beware! The castle was not built with tall people in mind. There was a boisterous group of older ladies in front of us who also supplied some entertainment during our wait. They even exclaimed “Good thing we aren’t six feet tall!” as I was crouching through yet another low doorway. There were plenty of photo opportunities along the climb as well, both of inside the castle and of the Irish countryside.

After making our way through the winding torrents, it was finally time for the kiss. This kiss is a lot more of a struggle than you might expect. In order to get the gift of gab, you have to lay down on your back, hold on to some bars attached to the castle side and scooch backwards until half your body is hanging upside down looking at the ground far below! Once you get past the height concerns, you’ll notice that the Blarney stone is right in front of your face. Lean in for the kiss then you’ll get helped back up!

Blarney Castle was one of our favorite stops on this trip, something we knew we had to do while we were in Ireland!

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One week in Tuscany: Our 7 Day Italy Itinerary

This past summer we had the chance to spend a full week in Tuscany, Italy. With our home base in Montecatini we visited new cities each day. Below is a snapshot of each of our days, to read more about any of the places, click on their names in the headers!

Day 1: Milan

We spent our first day in Italy recovering from jetlag in Milan. After our flight landed that morning we took a train into the city to see Sforzesco Castle and Siemphonie Park behind it. After a quick stop for pasta and pizza we headed to the Piazza del Duomo (or Plaza of the Cathedral) for our first views of the Duomo di Milano. With the rest of our evening, we visited the Duomo Museum and climbed to the rooftop terraces of the Duomo di Milano, my favorite part of the day!

Day 2: Drive to Montecatini

Drive time Milan to Montecatini: 3.5 hours

We picked up our car from the airport, grabbing pastries on the way, and set off towards Montecatini Terme where we would spend our nights for the majority of the trip. Just slightly out of the way we made a pit stop just outside of Parma for lunch with some Parma Parmesan cheese before heading on to Montecatini! After a quick refresh at our hotel, we headed out to take the funicular to the hill top medieval city of Montecatini Alto. We spent a relaxing evening wandering the cobblestone streets, eating dinner and enjoying gelato with a view!

Day 3: Pisa, Lucca & Montecatini

Drive time Montecatini to Pisa: 45 minutes

Drive time Pisa to Lucca: 25 minutes

Drive time Lucca to Montecatini: 25 minutes

We headed out towards Pisa by car early in the morning, to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa at our 8:45 time slot (make a reservation ahead of time here!). After climbing the Tower we spent the rest of our time in Pisa exploring the other attractions on the Square of Miracles such as the Pisa Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Camposanto! From Pisa we made our way to the walled city of Lucca for a leisurely lunch and rented bikes to ride around the city! Back in Montecatini we spent our evening at a spa called Terme Tettuccio. Unlike most spas, at Terme Tettuccio you don’t bathe in the thermal waters, you drink them! While the taste wasn’t the most pleasant, the minerals in it are said to be great for your health!

Day 4: Florence

Train travel time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

First let me say one day is not nearly enough time in Florence, but if you are crunched for time be sure to prioritize what you want to see! After taking the train into Florence we were able to see Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria dell’Academia, the powerful Medici family’s parish church the Basilica de San Lorenzo and the medieval seat of Tuscan legislature the Palazzo Vecchio all before lunch! Florence is full of history and we tried to soak up as much as possible in our little time there.

Day 5: Day tour around the Tuscan Countryside

To recuperate after a hectic day in Florence we decided to join a tour group to explore the scenic (and boozy) side of Tuscany. On our tour by Discover Tuscany we first visited the vineyard Abbadia Ardenga to learn the wine making process before delicious wine tastings! After the vineyard we explore three different Tuscan towns: Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. In Montepulciano we got a second wine tasting at Citta Sotterranea, an “Underground City” where wine barrels are stored through fermentation.

Day 6: Siena & San Gimignano

Drive time Montecatini to Siena: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Drive time Siena to San Gimignano: 1 hour

Drive time San Gimignano to Montecatini: 1 hour, 30 minutes

After a leisurely morning, we drove south to the hilltop city of Siena. While there we saw the brilliant mosaic floors of the Duomo (Italian for Cathedral), the ornately decorated Baptistery and views of the city and countryside from above! After a quick lunch we made our way to the walled city of San Gimignano for the evening. We windowshopped, explored the old city, saw magnificent views of the Tuscan countryside and enjoyed some award winning gelato!

Day 7: Cinque Terre & Milan

Drive time Montecatini to Cinque Terre: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Drive time Cinque Terre to Milan: 3 hours, 10 minutes

For our last full day in Italy we needed to drive from Montecatini to Milan in order to fly out the next morning. Instead of going the direct route, we detoured through Cinque Terre! Of the five villages that make up Cinque Terre we had the time to visit 3: Manarola, Vernazza and Monterosso. Train hopping between villages, we hiked through vineyards in Manarola, had a scenic lunch in Vernazza and visited the beach in Monterosso. The whole time we enjoyed the sea views and the colorful cityscape Cinque Terre has to offer!

Throughout this trip we tried to make the most out of every moment we had in Italy. Every one of these places deserved more time, but if you are limited on time like we were, hopefully this will help you plan your Italy vacation!

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An Evening in San Gimignano, Italy

After spending the afternoon in Siena, we made our way to San Gimignano for the evening. San Gimingnano was founded in ancient times, legend leads us to believe as early as 63 B.C.  Like Siena, San Gimignano is a walled city with paid parking lots just outside the city. There are signs for the four parking lots labeled P1 through P4, here is a guide to the prices and number of spaces in each lot. While the lots were fairly easy to find they were pretty full that evening so some searching was required to find a spot.

After parking we followed a path into the city until we came upon Chiesa Sant’Agostino, or the Church of Saint Augustine. This church houses the oldest fresco painting in San Gimignano. It was painted by the Italian painter Lippo Memmi before 1317 depicting the Virgin and the Child between archangel Michael and Kohn the Baptist.

From there we headed towards the Palazzo Communale, the mediecal municipal palace, right next to the Collegiate Church of San Gimingnano. If we had come earlier in the day we could have climbed the Belltower of San Gimingnano for views of the city but it was closing as we arrived. Our tired legs from climbing towers all over Italy, including two towers earlier that day in Siena were not extremely disappointed.  Instead we wandered into the courtyard of the Plazzo Communale, finding a picturesque well surrounded by paintings on the walls of the coats of arms of families who held public office.

From the courtyard we followed signs for a panoramic view leading us down some side streets and through a fairly creepy dark tunnel. At the end of the tunnel we came out onto a walkway with gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside. We stayed a while snapping some photos and absorbing all we could of the views.

After enjoying the view we headed towards the Piazza della Cisterna, a plaza with a large wishing well in the center. That evening it was filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather. We stopped in the famous Gelateria Dondeli for our daily gelato fix. The creator, Sergio Dondeli, is a former gelato world champion (yes, apparently those competitions do exist), here they had a variety of more unusual flavors such as ricotta and blueberries, spicy cream and my new favorite blackberry-lavender. Although the flavors seemed strange, they were definitely delicious!

After our gelato we walked back to the car outside the city, taking in the sunset views as we went. We headed back for our last night in Montecatini and prepped for or trip to Cinque Terre!

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