We read that the sun made an appearance in Vienna this week! People streamed out of their homes and into the streets, pointing their pale faces toward the golden orb in the sky, ever hopeful for a chance to squint at the sun.   Though we are not home, we, too, were once more pointing our pale faces toward the sun from atop two of Tuscany’s favorite hill towns, Volterra and San Gimignano.

The sun retreated behind the gray and snowy skies of Vienna again, perhaps not to be seen now until April. And so, especially for our Viennese friends, we graciously share several photos of another warm and sunny Italian day.  You’re welcome.

Although not perfectly picturesque due to the smoke from Tuscan farmers burning olive branches, the scenery still begs to be absorbed by the senses.

Volterra, the smaller of the two hill towns. Less toured by visitors than San Gimignano, but no less charming.

 Narrow passageways invite exploration.

Just outside the city wall are some of the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome.  On our last visit it was possible to view the ruins up close; a decade later, not so much. 
A couple of friends thought the children might be bored in Tuscany. Maybe some are, but not ours.

The 3 B.C. Etruscan City Gate, modified slightly by the Romans. Once upon a time the three stone blobs were the busts of Zeus and his two sons. During WWII, the citizens of Volterra filled the gate with rocks and boulders to prevent an attack by the Germans. Their heroic efforts are commemorated on a nearby plaque.
En route to San Gimignano, we offered a Grazie to the sheep who contributed to the delicious fresh pecorino sandwiches we snacked on from this roadside farmer’s truck.

The vines are ordered much differently than in Austria.

Several of the San Gimignano towers appear in the distance.  Only 14 of the 70 towers remain in this ancient Roman skyscraper city now.
Tony and I visited San Gimignano on our last visit for all of 30 minutes, 20 of which were spent wading through the disgorged tourists and tour buses at the main city gate entrance; and 10 of which were spent deciding that we weren’t going to enjoy strolling a city filled with said tourists jamming every nook and cranny.  We left, telling ourselves we would return another time.  This is the visitor parking lot in the early afternoon on our visit this week. 

 Not a tour bus in sight. I squealed.

Poor Clayton Theodore. So tired from sightseeing that he practically fell asleep standing up.
Someone needs a gelato snack to perk up.
“Award Winning Chocolate” read the label in the gelateria. No disagreement from us.
An afternoon of exploration awaited. 

Cletus meets Cinghiale.

No bridges in the city on which to hang a love padlock, but the gate across the old city well makes a fine stand-in.

La Rocca, 14th century fortress remains atop the city.

Ciao, San Gimignano.