Left the feuding towers of San Gimignano in the dark, with the corridor of street lights illuminating our footings on our way past the monastery that sits proudly admiring the UNESCO town from afar. We had our own feud, because there was no food, as we had been assured the night before this bar would be open, and it was….but just for cooking and receiving supplies. Two other bars were also open but for cleaning and preparing…. not to us.

Our feet are now itching….. to walk that is. No breakfast, so that usual pre-sunlight time was spent walking with a torch – not ideal but a chance to look back on this pretty town with it’s towers and lights, as home ones came on and street ones dimmed with the big one bringing into sight the picturesque countryside. A short day meant we could do a lot of looking back and what a place to do it – but with many black photos to delete.

As the sun rose, our trails continued up and down hills, through fields of grape vines, olive trees and small woods, as well as crossing three river beds – one dry. It was a relatively short and cool stroll as we meandered like a small stream but this one also climbed. It was Tuscany at it’s best with the close landforms coming together as they met in different designs that then went on to make other delightful shapes before reaching a large open space.

We passed numerous aziendas and villas, and through a number of small hamlets … too small for bars, so we sat under a tree with a cute cat and 2 barking dogs and had some biscuits and water. We reached Colle di Val d’Elsa where at last we found one. But this was Colle di Val d’Elsa “Alto”, and we would have to descend past “Mezzo” to “Basso” to find our sleeping place (and tomorrow’s way out of here).

Down in the “Basso” we found it. It was a huge old paper factory that had been converted into a hotel at one end, with four shops taking up the rest of the street frontage. The restaurant ran the opposite way to the shops, from the hotel and underneath them to do a right turn at the end to form another shop frontage and a public entrance – the ceiling of the tunnel restaurant was done in a gothic style. Out the back the factories open space became a piazza – fascinating use of space.

We wifi’d for a while, and sat in a huge square that looked like a movie set, eating a 4/10 pizza for lunch. Tonight we’ll eat at the hotel restaurant as our new “friend”/hotel manager told us it is the “best”. As we reconnoitred tomorrow’s exit, we bumped into an Australian couple who are doing “hilltop towns of Tuscany”. We laughed as they shared that perhaps they had missed the fact it meant lots of climbs and descents. At least they are with a company, not carrying packs, and will be driven part of the way tomorrow.