For our first full day in Tuscany we decided to check out some of the hill towns. We went to Volterra and San Giamanginino, two of the ancient Etruscan hill towns in Tuscany. The etruscans predated the Greeks and were equally as advanced in art and science. It is really interesting to look out at the horizon and you can see many little towns, each perched on the top of one hill or another. The valleys are all full and planted with vines and other crops.
The fact that the towns are all on tops of hills makes driving challenging. You don't follow a nice straight road through the valleys, but rather you go up one hill then down then up again, winding in and around farms, villas, and the occasional castle.
Volterra is a beautiful city. It is much like what you would find in other large european cities but has a much smaller feel. Although on sunday afternoon it was still pretty crowded with tourists. We checked out the Etruscan museum which had some interesting artifacts from etruscan life along with hundreds of urns to hold the cremated ashes of ancient etruscans.
We had a late lunch at one of Rick Steve's recommended restaurants. When we walked in there was hardly anyone there but it was full when we left.
After Volterra we drove to San Gimiangno which is another etruscan hill town. It was also interesting but it was even more full of tourists than Volterra. It was in SG that I realized that shopping appears to be a very large part of the european vacation experience.
After our trip to the hill towns we decided to try dinner at one of the restaurants recommended by the manager of Il Lebbio. We drove into town and Tried Casa Masi, but it was full, so we continued on to Carpe Diem. This was a restaurant that was attached to one of the hotels in Montaione. They have a large outdoor seating area and and inside area with a great view. We did not have a reservation so we ended up sitting back from the view. The menu was nice and had several good looking wines as well. We were all a bit tired of Pasta tonight so we tried a little different menu. Crepes, Beef Chunks, Dory and Pork chunks.
The service was extremely slow even by Italian restaurant standards. But at the conclusion of our meal the manager apologized and gave us a free bottle of wine.