Anyone who knows small children is all too well aware of their tendency to wake up very early. Those leisurely holiday mornings of long lie-ins and slow breakfasts are distant memories once babies arrive, but this, in itself, can have its advantages.
When my son was 5 months old, we took him on his first holiday to Italy and for a few nights, we stayed just outside the beautiful town of San Gimignano. Situated between Florence and Siena, San Gimignano has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Its 13th Century walls surround a medieval town where the families who controlled the town built 72 towers, some as high as 50 metres, as symbols of their power and influence. Although only 14 of these towers survive, San Gimignano has retained its medieval atmosphere and beauty.
As you can imagine, in the Summer months, it is a hugely popular tourist attraction, and the streets can become very crowded. This is when the early waking of a small baby can come into its own. Wide awake by 7am (a minor lie-in due to the hour’s time difference), dressed and breakfasted by 7.30, we were raring to get out and explore. We crept out, leaving my husband fast asleep and put my son in the lightweight buggy we had brought on holiday and began to walk towards the towers that we could see in the distance.
It was a glorious May morning, the sun was shining and already it was starting to warm up, but there was still an early morning freshness in the air that made pushing the buggy up the hill a pleasure. Once inside the walls, it was a very different town to the bustling place we had visited the previous afternoon. There were almost no tourists, everyone appeared to be locals, going about their daily business before the tourist hoards arrived. My son and I were able to walk through the streets and soak up the atmosphere in relative peace. It was almost as if we had been granted a private viewing of this most special of towns.
Before returning to my husband, I decided to have a coffee in one of the many cafes that were already open. As I sat at an outside table, my son on my lap, enjoying the warmth, I was approached by a couple of elderly Italian ladies who started making a fuss of my son. I sat back, proud as any new mother is when their child is admired, until I realised that I was being gently scolded. Through some basic sign language, I understood that they were concerned that my son was not wearing a hat and that he would therefore catch cold. By this time, it was about 23 degrees, even though we were in the shade, but these ladies were adamant that he was running a real risk of being cold. I explained that he was English, that he was thoroughly enjoying the glorious Italian weather and we did have a sun-hat, but it was clear from their good-natured finger-wagging that this was no excuse and the flimsy sun-hat was inadequate.
We walked back to our accommodation and woke my husband who was most indignant that he had been left behind. The next day, I was allowed an extra hour in bed while he returned to enjoy the town in the early morning sunshine, as I had done.
San Gimignano is a fantastic town to visit at any time of the day, or indeed at any time of year, but I will always remember that special early morning visit with my son. If you can face getting up early and making the trip before the crowds arrive, then I would certainly recommend it. Bookings For You can suggest our San Gimignano apartments, a collection of immaculately presented 2 and 3 bedroom apartments. Situated 5 miles from San Gimignano, there are 2 large pools and this is a superb location for groups of friends or multi-generational holidays.