Volterra, San Gimingnano, Buonconvento, Abby San Antimo, Abby Monte Oliveto Maggiore. ~ Romancing Italy

Oct 10, 2006

Volterra, San Gimingnano, Buonconvento, Abby San Antimo, Abby Monte Oliveto Maggiore.

My little drive around took me all the way down to Volterra, a perfectly preserved medieval town that is not as visited as other towns. It is mostly known for the Balze cliffs, where it is eroding away, and one basilica with it. I came during a car show – naturally, the red sports car caught my eye, but the very tiny fiats were adorable as well.

San Gimingnano was a short drive away. I decided to stay the night here so I could see more of southern Tuscany. The monastery was the least expensive choice, but they didn’t answer either the door or the phone!!!! I must have caught them all during their moment of silence. I called a number I had for a room and was welcomed by a wonderful retired couple. (My Italian got a kick-start here as we sat around their table and talked for a short while. That gave me a boost of confidence.) They were only a short distance from the free parking I’d found. Amazing! I walked up to the walled entrance and the woman in front of me turned around and stared at me with a “how dare you” look as she backed away from me, and I wondered if looked dangerous or insane or like her dead mother.

Town was full of wonderful quaint shops and lots of gelato. One of those night photos is of one shop that was open and drawing customers – including me. There was a trio playing their music on one of the streets - classical chamber – perfect for those surroundings. I now have their CD. The church was amazing with frescoes of scenes from the bible. There was a woman giving a tour in English and I listened in on her lecture. One of the frescoes was of the wealthy donors to the church – who had themselves painted as the chosen going to heaven.

Next day, it rained…lovely. This means I’ll have to come back so I can see southern Tuscany with blue sky.

Buonconvento was my lunch stop. I had a delicious typical tuscan lunch – barley soup and venison. It’s different in the country than in the city where they bring you a glass of wine if that is what you ask for. I got an entire bottle! But I was reassured I only paid for what I drank. I felt like a native with that bottle sitting grandly in front of me. I’m usually done for after only one glass, so this looked good.

The Two abbeys. I like abbeys, probably more so that the grand churches. And I like the chanting…..very soothing. I was sorry that they vesper at the first abby – San Antimo was going to be too late for me to stay for. I was pleasantly surprised that they were in service when I arrived at the Monte O. Maggiore. This is supposed to be the grandest abbey still in existence.

I had a nice long drive back to Lucca, even with the freeway. They are tolled and although I’ve been through them before, I couldn’t find the slot for the ticket. The frustrated voice kept saying in English “Put it in the box” but the box seemed all wrong – too big for my little ticket. Finally, I dropped it in and since nothing happened I asked mysterious voice “what now?” No answer… The agent materialized out of nowhere and asked “What’s the problem” or was it really “What’s your problem?” before fixing it and sending me on my way.



  1. Ciao Beverly, sono in ufficio e in un momento di pausa sto guardando il tuo blog. Devo dire che traspare proprio il tuo amore per l'Italia. Tutte le foto sono state fatte in modo da ottenere un effetto romantico ed anche un po' nostalgico. Anche dai commenti traspare questa tua passione. A quando il prossimo tour in moto ? Di' ad Antonio di smetterla di murarti viva in casa...non ti si vede piu' per Borgo. Complimenti ancora per il blog, ciao. Matteo -

  2. Ciao Matteo, che bello che mi hai lasciato un messagio. Hai il onore per essere il primo italiano e per cio, questo e il primo messagio in italiano. Grazie per il tuo commento. E' vero che sono inammorata con Italia e sono lieta che si vede nel blog.

    Hai ragione, dobbiamo fare un altro giro insieme in moto. Ci vediamo presto Matteo.

    Ciao, Bev


Whisper sweet somethings