We made a quick stop in the town of Castellina in Chianti; we could only stay 20 minutes because we had to meet our Airbnb host by 4:00.
The town perches atop a ridge overlooking three valleys, the Val di Pesa, Val d’Arbia, and Val d’Elsa. With its 15th-century walls and fortified town gate, Castellina in Chianti was an outpost during the continuing wars between Florence and Siena.
We went into the 15th-century fort constructed around a 13th-century tower that served as a town hall and the Museo Archeologico del Chianti Senese. We climbed up into the tower, where in every direction was a bucolic panorama.
From there we had about an hour to drive to our Airbnb, Appartamento Adalberto, located inside the ancient manor of Fulignano. I turned on my phone’s Travel Pass so I’d have WiFi and promptly went to the Airbnb app to find directions.
The apartment was advertised to be in the countryside outside of San Gimignano, but Google Maps seemed to be leading us directly into the town. We went in through a gate heavily populated with tourists. Somehow the directions led us on a narrow road precariously situated on the perimeter of the town walls. Mike was afraid that we would get stuck on the road and have to back up a long way. We were both getting anxious as we couldn’t imagine why were in the middle of the town with its narrow one-way pedestrian-packed lanes. What if our place was actually in the middle of the town and we had to worry about parking and getting our car in and out of these narrow lanes?
Finally the GPS insisted we had arrived. We were in the center of San Gimignano and there was nothing that looked like the picture of our Airbnb. Not only that, but we were late to meet our Airbnb host. I frantically called Giovanni. I’m sure he could hear the panic in my voice. Calmly he said, “Remember, I sent you the directions through Whatsapp. The directions on the Airbnb app are wrong.”
He also told us his father would be there to meet us at the apartment because he was on vacation.
I had forgotten all about the message on Whatsapp. There it was, the address, right there in his message. I clicked on it and we were slowly led back out of San Gimignano and into the countryside. The directions were straightforward, taking us over hilly and winding paved roads, with a stretch on gravel roads, out to the countryside. We could see San Gimignano with its many towers sitting on a hillside in the distance.
We pulled up to a beautiful manor house sitting on a hilltop with a magnificent view. Though Giovanni could speak English, his father, Franco, who was there to meet us, couldn’t, so it was difficult to communicate our questions about the place. A couple of times, Franco had to call Giovanni to translate.
San Gimignano is famous for its light white Vernaccia wine. Franco gave us a gift of this type of wine.
After bringing in our bags and settling in, we drove into Poggibonsi, the closest town, to a PAM Superstore, where we bought groceries. Before dinner, we sat out by the pool with the Vernaccia wine, cheese and crackers.
Mike cooked broccoli with tagliatelle and tossed a salad with lettuce and tomato. With our meal, we sipped the Vernaccia, serenaded by my Italian playlist on Spotify: Notes from Italy.
The next day, we would explore San Gimignano; we’d be staying in Appartamento Adalberto for three nights.
*Steps 13,024, or 5.52 miles* (for the entire day from Florence to our Airbnb)
*Thursday, May 2, 2019*