LYDIA'S BLOG: San Gimignano

Mar 12, 2012


We caught the 10:10 a.m. train to Poggibonsi. We had to wait around for about a half-hour for the bus to San Gimignano. We walked around for a little bit but didn't find much in the town, so we just waited at the train station.   The bus was grimy. There was gum stuck to the back of every Sharpie-decorated seat. The grey windows were plastered with vulgar words and images. I was glad the journey only took about 15 minutes.   We stepped off the bus to a gorgeous view of the countryside.   The first thing we did upon entering San Gimignano was visit the Museo degli Strumenti di Tortura and the Museo Pena di Morte (Museums of instruments of torture and death penalty, respectively). Erika and Yelena are fans of all things dead and creepy. 

That's just a taste of the horrors awaiting us inside the two museums. I stopped documenting as soon as hooks were involved and don't see the point in reliving the atrocities. I'm sure you don't want to read them as much as I don't want to write about them. But suffice to say it definitely made me question human nature. As much as I want to believe humans are inherently good, what we're capable of doing to each other is ghastly.

We stumbled out of the dead museums and began to wander through the sunny streets.

We walked around for a while trying to erase what we just saw and regain an appetite. Eventually, we accomplished both and found a restaurant. By that time I was so hungry I didn't bother taking a picture, but we split bruschetta, a liter of wine and a bottle of water. I got penne with tomato sauce and some sort of spicy cheese. It was very different than what I've had up until this point and also very, very good.

In the absence of my usual tower-climber, Amy, I had to talk Erika and Yelena into paying €5 to climb Torre Grossa, but I won. After a few disdainful murmurs of, "Lydia, you and your damned stairs and towers," we started to climb.

Honestly, every tower since St. Peter's Basilica feels so manageable. I arrived at the top far earlier than I expected.

We climbed the last steep ladder to the top. Until this point, I was unaware of Yelena's fear of heights. When she hesitated at the bottom of the ladder with a whimper, I faintly recalled someone mentioning it. Erika and I took pictures of the incredible view as the wind howled. I couldn't believe how windy it was. A gust literally lifted by backpack away from my back.

After a while, we descended the tower — or rather Erika and I walked down the stairs while Yelena practically crawled backwards.

It was a peaceful, quiet, simple, perfect day (ignoring the museums) in a gorgeous town. I can see why Ryan loved it so much.   We left the walls of the city around 6 p.m. We had to wait for a bus for half an hour. It deposited us at the train station around 7 p.m., where the train to Florence SMN had been delayed for about an hour. We eventually made it home around 9:15 p.m.   Unfortunately, it was too late to make it to Kelsey's birthday dinner. But happy birthday to my fellow CCI Florentine nonetheless!

Editor’s note: Former Grand Haven Tribune intern Lydia Coutré is spending a semester in Italy. She is a junior at Kent State University, studying journalism. Her blogs during her stay in Italy will be posted here and at All photos by Lydia Coutré.


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