San Gimignano: Family Style

It’s amazing how completely different a place can be when you return with a different group of people. In my case, I had the AMAZING opportunity to visit San Gimignano AGAIN with my momma, cousin, and aunt, who came all the way from good old PA to visit me in Tuscany.

After one evening in Florence, we packed our bags and headed south for some absolutely gorgeous fall views. These views, no matter how many times I see them, will never grow old to me.

The vineyards had a beautiful yellow color and created a perfect fall landscape.

The beauty never seems to end in Tuscany.

After getting lost, because I refused to lower myself to the help of a GPS (mistake #1), we were in desperate need of a lunch break. We found a lovely little family-owned place on the top of  a Tuscan vineyard.

Because that kind of random amazingness just happens all the time in Tuscany.

I’m actually surprised that we didn’t see a restaurant on top of a Italian bread bakery next to a vineyard on top of a Tuscan Villa overlooking a Medieval castle.

Stuff just happens like that.

Italian Cheez-its in bagel form.


My aunt and cousin’s foodgasm was caused by this forkful of truffle risotto, which in the words of Debbie (my aunt), “changed her life.”

I’m so proud.

And it was so full of aroma, due to the freshness of the truffles, that we all took turns to shove our nose in there and get a good feel for the smell.

Truffles season begins in mid November. Because of this, restaurants everywhere in Tuscany are boasting their truffle laden pastas, risottos, meat dishes, and antipasti. The truffles are abundant and extremely affordable.

It’s almost disgusting how cheap they are here. The same dish that Debbie ordered (which cost 10 Euro in Tuscany) would have set her back about $50 in the United States because of the fresh truffle slices.

Once harvested, fresh truffles only last for about 3 days. This is why in lands where truffles are not native (such as many parts of the United States) they are so expensive. They have to be flown in or shipped immediately, which can lead to extremely high prices.

Also ordered at the table was a thick Tuscan style pasta called pici with cheese sauce and black pepper.

It was like a great Tuscan macaroni and cheese.

After continuing our journey, and continuing our streak of lostness, we decided that the only way to entertain ourselves was to guess what the strange Italian road signs may mean.

We came up with things like.

“This city is equipped with toys for children with ADD.”

“Don’t have children.”

“Pregnant women driving.”

“Caution: Women with push-up bras”

You would use your imagination too if you were stuck in a car with me as the navigator.

But, seriously, what in the world is an inverted musical instrument doing on a road sign?

Caution: Band camp?

This confusing image that is a proper representation of Italian road signs is complements of this site.

We finally arrived to San Gimignano and started roaming the streets of this medieval town.

I was able to spot several new scenes and touches of simple beauty that I had not taken notice to on my last trip.

As the sun went away and a light rain drizzled down, the people of San Gimignano seemed to disappear. This left for a serene and peaceful city full of quiet charm.

And I decided to introduce my newly-Italianized relatives to world-champion gelato.

After sub-consciously convincing my mother to order flavors that I actually wanted, I was able to taste one of the best gelato flavors that I have ever consumed.

Like De Neri good.

And that is saying something CRAZY!

Mandorle (Almond) and its sister bin full of Yogurt de Bosco (Yogurt with Fruit of the Forest) were able to entertain my tummy and cause my mouth to sing gelato melodies the rest of the night.

There was no flavoring, no fake form of inverted sugar, and no artificial neon coloring.

It was gelato with REAL almonds and REAL fruit, in REAL Italy.

These people, they are genius.

And my relatives, yeah…they were happy too.

Jayme was so happy she was unable to look directly at the camera in fear of weeping.

After enjoying the brilliant walled city, we made our way to Le Tre Stelle, an agriturismo in Certlado.

And, we got lost getting there too.

Correction: I got my family lost getting there.

Oh look at me, I’m Lauren and I know exactly how to get everywhere in Tuscany.

What a joke.

Le Tre Stelle is a quaint little rustic style farm with the most pleasant staff that you could ever wish for.

Every decoration was without reason but worked so well. The rustic charm made me giggle and feel at ease.

Our rooms were no different. We had the pleasure of enjoying two rooms, one of which contained me and Jayme (as to avoid the snoring issues that one of my loved ones has (Mom))

And as I was looking through the cupboards to see what new decorations might meet by eyes, I was pleasantly surprised by this cabinet that literally had a kitchen inside.

Like, whoa.

It puts a whole new meaning to “kitchen cabinet.”

We were also blessed by the face of Mona Lisa.

And the virgin Mary above our heads to protect us.

And a lovely coin collection.

And fun wall stencils.

And being overwhelmed by the eclectically charming room decor, we forgot to realize that we hadn’t eaten in over 3 hours.

So pretty much, we were starving.

Oh, and before I go on…that white bear is a heater decoration. Made to decorate your heater. Make sure to have that whistling sound from furnace checked.

It’s beary warm.


Donatella, the lovely owner of Le Tre Stelle had prepared dinner for us and started us off with a Vernaccia, a homemade white wine.

We were served salsicce (sausage) crostini (amazing), fresh bruschetta (amazing), and crostini with their new olive oil (bottled the DAY before…amazing). In additional we were given a cheese and mushroom stromboli pastry that well…was equally as amazing.

Fresh cheese tortellini with “famous” certaldo onions.

A melt in your mouth beef roast.

And we enjoyed one of the most simply dressed, yet absolutely fabulous salads with olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and balsamic vinegar.

And Donatella and her mother were kind enough to take care of the dietary needs of my aunt and cousin, who are vegetarian. There plates looked equally as appetizing!

Donatella introduced us to the red wine that was served with the pasta. This specific flavor was made from grapes planted by Donatella and her sister Antonella and uniquely combined with several grape varieties. It was lovely.

And so I bought some.

Oh and yeah…there was also Chianti.

Which is a total wine classic.

After we all had consumed a fair share of alcohol  our tummies were full, and we were able to absorb the room decor, we changed into our pajamas and giggled for hours with our moms. It was an incredible time of sharing, laughter, and love.

And then we got to eat again.

We were served a simply fabulous breakfast of fresh cheese, honey, breakfast cake, focaccia, cereal, delicious yogurt, and the best scrambled eggs I have ever had in my life.

So, I put “Tuscan chicken with egg-laying potential” on my Christmas list.

Jayme was served a frothy cappuccino made by the mother of Donatella.

Being the only guests at the agriturismo (because November is the off season), we where given the utmost attention, service, and love. Donatella and her mother Maria waited on us hand and food and made us feel like one of the family. Dontalella’s mother spoke no English, but it didn’t seem to matter. She seemed attracted to us while we were eating and would slowly creep up and just stand at the end of our table, without having any words to say. The imagined awkwardness was actually more of a warmth and cute characteristic of this woman. And to imagine this, it is only proper if you see a photo of them together.

They were perfect, lovely people who run the most adorable farm.

And we just loved it.

And me? Well, I was in the Tuscan hills with my momma, who I had missed dearly for three months.

What more could a girl want?

Book your San Gimignano Farm Holiday stay and be tantalized by rustic loving, good Tuscan cooking, and motherly care.

Le Tre Stelle, Certaldo, Italy.

Ciao for now!