My first taste of Tuscany came in the autumn of 1998 when Susan and I travelled to Pistoia. We spent a week with members of an evangelical church. Pistoia lent its name to the pistol which it started manufacturing in the 16th century. We enjoyed a wonderful sunny day wandering around the hills surrounding Pistoia. Another day was spent visiting Florence. This whetted our appetites for a return visit to Florence in February 1999.

San Gimignano

Before arriving in Florence, we had seen San Gimignano featured on a holiday television programme. After spending a few days exploring Florence, we decided to jump on a local bus to this small Tuscan hilltop town. San Gimignano is famous for its 13 towers. I’ll always remember my first glimpse of those towers from the window of the bus. They have been likened to a mini Manhattan skyline.

Wild Boar Salami

I recall doing a small watercolour in the piazza. You can see it in the book “Landscapes in Watercolour” by Theodora Philcox. We sampled some local red wine and wild boar salami and looked out from the town walls to enjoy la bella vista.  The watercolour above is just a tiny section of the view which we enjoyed that memorable day. Yet somehow it typifies the essence of the Tuscan landscape. Glorious rolling hills disappearing into the distance punctuated by cypress trees and white washed farm buildings.

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