Gelato and Groceries in San Gimignano

You know, I’ve always laughed at people who travel to another country, only to stay at a resort that caters to all of their local traditions and comforts. Despite being planted in a different culture, they still want to eat the same meal for breakfast, speak in their native tongue, and participate in activities that are intentionally geared towards their cultural interests. What is the point of traveling if you don’t sample the regional flavors, try to speak the native language, or get swept up in the excitement of local activities?!Whelp, now Kai and I are the resort people – because despite being in the Italian countryside for a month, we could not go without our beloved food staples and found ourselves driving an hour’s distance to visit our preferred German grocery store and stock up on our favorite brands for our month in Italy.Truthfully, I feel a bit of shame, but also SO much elation to be able to bulk buy my favorite snacks (apple chips?! hemp seeds?! matcha?!) and breakfast muesli. I guess it’s one thing to be in Italy for a week and live off of espresso and croissants for breakfast. But if I’m going to be here for a month, I need some hearty greek yogurt and a whole grain fruit and nut cereal to see me through, you know?!That said, I’m not one to say no to a foamy cappuccino and a stunning Tuscan view when the opportunity presents itself ;)Anyways, our quest to stockpile groceries took us north to San Gimignano. And while we didn’t want to get all handsy with the locals (due to our recent travels) we did go for a long walk in the sun, picked up a socially distant ice cream, read in the square, and had a coffee before going to the grocery store and filling up our trunk with enough snacks and muesli to last us for four weeks.
A visit to San Gimignano had been on my Tuscan bucket list for a while, but as it’s quite far north compared to where we normally venture in Tuscany, we hadn’t made it to the towering ancient city yetTwo of our friends, Chris and Lindsay, will be joining us in Italy this weekend, and since they’ve already been to San Gimignano, we decided it was a good stop over to do alongside our grocery run so we could check out the town while it was still just Kai and me. And although I’ve never been to San Gimignano, I have to say, the city felt eerily empty. The shops were open but desolate, the squares were vacant, and the terraces were seated at less than half capacity – mainly by locals smoking cigarettes and drinking an espresso in the sun.As much as I would have loved to pop into some of the cute gift shops, I wanted to reduce my footprint, and we mainly stuck to the public areas where we roamed and chilled when our legs got tired. We both brought along our books, so we stopped to read in the sun on a few occasions and otherwise just enjoyed taking in the views.San Gimignano is known for having some of the tallest medieval architecture in Tuscany, with numerous flying towers perched on a high hill. The town is encircled by 13th-century walls, and has a charming historic piazza that is still lined with medieval houses today. We didn’t have much we wanted to do in San Gimignano other than grab an ice cream at Gelateria Dondoli, who are said to make the best ice cream in the world. They’re the reigning gelato champion, and have some crazy-inventive flavors, but I went for the typical pistachio . . . and can attest that it was one of the best ice creams of my life!A dose of COVID travel reality? The city streets were empty, and restaurant and shop owners were practically *begging* us to spend our money at their establishments, beaconing to from shopfronts and terraces as we strolled past. Masks were mandatory, hand sanitizer was required at every door, menus were digital and looked at on our phones, and we stayed 1.5 meters away from everyone. At one point, we were quite hungry, so we stopped at a small terrace and ordered a few appetizers to share. Before serving us, the waiter asked that we write down our names and numbers on a piece of paper, so they could call us if an outbreak occurred at the restaurant. At every turn, we were confronted with a new COVID reality. And honestly, it really put a damper on our sunny mindset. It was nice to escape the country side for a bit, but we honestly feel the safest at our villa in the middle of no where, and wont be doing much else for the next week.That said, we definitely picked up enough provisions (in the form of wine, prosciutto, and cookies!) to last!La Buca di Montauto was one of the few shops we did pop in, to stock up on charcuterie made with their wild boar. We purchased three different cuts and €15 was enough to get us numerous meals worth of charcuterie!And finally, the purpose of our trip . . .  we also left with a trusty grocery haul, featuring all of our favorite staples from home :)Which to be fair, made a pretty damn delicious Italian dinner on our first night in town. Ciao friends, already looking forward to our next catch up!

xo Ali

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