19. San Gimignano, Italy

Ice cream, you scream

These days, we’re constantly being bombarded by companies over-selling their products by making grandiose claims about them. “The closest, shaviest shave yet”, “The best kebab in London”, “Lose all your weight in five minutes”. It’s all very tiring and unnecessary.

Happily though, there is a little town in rural Italy where such a bold and ambitious claim does actually live up to its billing.

It’s a popular little tourist spot, just off the main road from Florence to Siena, its (mostly) vehicle free town centre characterised by old fashioned hilly streets, with the main square in the middle(ish) of it all. If you can find the main square – which is not always an easy task if you don’t have a map to hand – and you make your way to the “bottom” corner (you’ll know what I mean when you get there), you’ll come across a gelateria that claims to sell the “best ice cream in the world”.

With cautious optimism, I ordered my 4 euro cone with three scoops (other options are available), and gave it a go.

Second best thing I’ve had in my mouth this year.

I quickly realised why this charming little town had become so popular with tourists – mainly Americans, it seemed – with nearly every one of them enjoying a similarly delicious experience as myself, whilst desperately searching for a decent place to sit in the square. My choice of flavours was, of course, perfect. The sweetness of the mango, tartness of the lemon, and richness of the chocolate flavours combining beautifully to create an experience that does actually live up to the self-claimed hype.

Oral explosions and John Torode impressions concluded, it was time for part two of Reasons Why I Drove To San Gimignano – La Museo Della Tortura.

I’ve always had a morbid fascination with medieval torture instruments and methods, and the museum in San Gimignano gave me the opportunity to fully indulge in it, with a fairly impressive display of ways and means of inflicting pain, suffering, and in most cases, death.

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With my wallet somewhat lighter and my blood sugar level significantly increased, it was time to hop back in the car to drive to my next destination, my second home.

More on that later.

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