Part Two of Four: Travelling Through Tuscany. Part one, Florence to Monteriggioni, can be seen here.
After a morning dip in the hotel pool, it is a short, 20 minute drive from the l Piccolo Castello Hotel to Colle di Val d’Elsa. This well-preserved medieval town, know for it’s high-quality crystal, has two distinct areas. The newer area of Colle di Val d’Elsa has more of an industrial feel. A bustling place with shops and slightly crumbling, once majestic buildings. But the star of this city is the oldest part of town, called the ‘colle alta’. It is high above its more industrial counterpart and is a breathtakingly beautiful, preserved medieval centre.
You can park your car for free just outside to the right of Porta Nova – the gate that anchors the medieval city walls. Entering Porta Nova is something special. Walking over the now empty moat, you are struck by the grandour and regality of this city.
This city is a treasure trove of sights and restaurants, so I recommend you stay here for two nights. A hotel that is in the perfect location to call home, is the grand Palazzo San Lorenzo Hotel & Spa. Tucked right beside Porta Nova, this hotel is in an ideal location for exploring the city. I recommend staying in one of their apartments. Complete with a full kitchen, they are spacious and quiet and have terrific views from the higher floors. You can buy some local wine and cheese for your fridge and pretend you’re a local for a little while.
After checking in, you will have plenty of time for lunch. Lunch time in Colle di Val D’Elsa can be challenging if you are looking for a sit down experience. Most locals grab a panini from the local bakery and eat in one of the city’s piazzas. Most restaurants are not open for lunch, but the one we found open all-day was Portanova Hosteria Enoteca.
This restaurant, specializing in local Tuscan wine and recipes, is actually inside the ancient defensive towers of Porto Nova and their patio is on top of the towers – offering the best view in town. An exceptional experience for history and architecture buffs.
After lunch, take a wander and discover how enchanting this layered city is. Expanding outwards in circles from the central piazzas, you can get lost in the maze of covered alleyways and stairs leading to breathtaking views.
Now, let’s talk dinner! If you want truffle sliced thick and plentiful, L’oste di Borgo is the place to be. Charming and quaint with a shabby chic flair, this restaurant has a great patio, friendly staff and incredible food for very affordable prices. It is the perfect way to end your day exploring the phenomenal Colle di Val d’Elsa.