Subject: Re: Tuscan Hill Towns - San Gimignano

Like many who have seen San Gimignano change from a treasure (over 25 years ago) into one of the most visited (read TOURIST HELL) sites in Italy, our hearts ache over what the charming hill town has become. However, that being said, we do have a recommendation, for those who have the time to spend the night. When the last tourist bus leaves at 6:00pm, and the town reverts from a tourism center to a sleepy hill town, it regains the magic that many of us remember. Wandering the tiny streets, as the sun slips toward the horizon, the windows open, and voices singing local love songs, children practicing their musical instruments, and the aromas of home cooked meals fill the air. Watching the sun set over the rolling Tuscan hills from the balcony of your hotel (2 fine ones inside the walls of the town) is an experience that you will recall as THE standard for quintessential ITALY. After a quiet night's sleep - with your window open, letting in the cool clear air, you will be treated with another breathtaking sunrise, as your mind transports you back in time - to an era when San Gigigano's towers demonstrated their owner's allegiance to a Middle Ages Papal struggle. Then, it's easy to forget the souvenir shops, filled with dust catchers - assembled in China or Taiwan or somewhere in the world - other than Italy.

Anyway, there still is a way to enjoy this wonderful Tuscan experience, but you have to be able to find a way to do it when the tourists are not overwhelming the town.

Roy, Wanda, & Dena Faires Las Vegas, NV