San Gimignano and Volterra or Lucca

Apr 6th, 2011, 07:06 AM
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San Gimignano and Volterra or Lucca

Have a choice of visiting San Gimignano and Volterra or Lucca. SG and Volterra are appealing but have heard that SG especially is so touristy that it spoils the experience. Have been to Lucca but briefly. Comments and recommendations appreciated.
cynthia22 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 07:24 AM
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This past August when we finally visited San Gim we decided to do so later in the afternoon on a Sunday (we were staying in an out-of-the-way "hotel" a short drive away).

The place was MOBBED and NO, they were obviously NOT all visitors from the US (and nobody doing business was the least bit inclined to turn anybody away, either).

The place is obviously very popular and for good have to admit it is kinda unique and the views are spectacular.

Did this mass of folks "ruin" our visit? Not in the least because we didn't allow it to do so. It wasn't as if there were so many people, like ourselves) that we couldn't move, shop, etc.

"So touristy" is a term that has been much OVER-used by a bunch of people here trying to intimidate others IMO. So, a place is "touristy?" There's a REASON people flock to some places and if you allow that to stand in the way of seeing something you think is important TO SEE, then that is unfortunate.
Dukey1 is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 11:08 AM
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I agree with Dukey.
And, Volterra is also special.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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We visited both about three years ago....maybe four years ago. We preferred Volterra, perhaps because we wandered through right on the weekend they were having a Pecorino festival, and rolling giant wheels of cheese down a slalom course of haybales on a cobbled street.
San Gimignano had a lot of construction work going on at the time, with lots of scaffolding around, as well as at least a couple of big cranes (not the birds!) near some of the towers. Our photos aren't exactly charming, although I don't begrudge them doing maintenance or repair work during the off-season (it was late October).
Although the San Gimignano towers were probably very scenic, we were just taken in by the seemingly more authentic charm and normalcy of Volterra, with lots of Italian people strolling on a Sunday afternoon, a few nice shops but not tooooo fancy and expensive, and some delicious, simple pizzerias and cafés.
More our style.
But I would've liked to have seen the towers of SG without the cranes and scaffolding. Maybe I would have loved it more.

I'm always arguing about the tourism aspect with my husband, as he hates to go somewhere that is "touristy," but I contend that the reason so many people go to certain places is that there is truly something spectacular and memorable there.

He's a native Californian, yet I didn't manage to drag him to Yosemite until he was 50 years old. He'd heard there were too many people going there. lol
La_Tour_de_Cause is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 12:26 PM
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Will you be staying overnight at any of these locations? San Gimignano has few tourists overnight; they tend to day-trip. Also, even during the day, there are many fewer tourists once you get off the main street.

Volterra is appealing, too. It has a very good Etruscan museum and an interesting Roman theatre just outside the city walls on the north side.

I like Lucca, and it's nice that it's more of a "normal" city. But as Dukey and Bob pointed, there are reasons that more people visit the other two locations. Especially if it's your first time in Tuscany, I'd suggest San G. and Volterra.
Lexma90 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2011, 07:51 AM
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Thanks for all the comments and advice. It appears I erred on the side of too little information in my effort to avoid being verbose. I will be on a cruise with a choice of 1/2 day in Lucca or full day in San G and Volterra. I have been to Tuscany (countryside and Florence with brief stop in Lucca). My definition of "touristy" has to do with crowds and excessive souvenir stands & intrusive sellers hawking wares and general carnival atmosphere - all of which I had been told tend to spoil the appreciation of San G;(for instance, St. Peter's is definitely crowded but not in my estimation "touristy" as one still comes away with a deep impression of the art, history, spiritualism and meaning of St Peter's).
cynthia22 is offline  
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