Hike and Seek (and birthday treat): Damme

A picturesque little town, open polder landscape, plenty of restaurants, historic and cultural heritage and the proximity to both Belgian coast and Bruges. This all blends into a tasteful cocktail if you ask me… Cheers to another year!

Hard to imagine this small sleepy town was once all buzz and trading acitivity acting as a front port for mighty Bruges during the Middle Ages. The ‘Eighty Years’ War’ between Spain and the Netherlands left its trace on the region too: many towns and villages were fortified and walled, including Damme. If you are not afraid of heights climb up the 206 steps of the church tower for an overview on the star-shaped city walls (17th century) and surrounding landscape. Plenty of hiking and biking trails to explore at your own pace. A boat ride with nostalgic ‘Lamme Goedzak’ brings you to Bruges in half an hour. Enough time to sit back, relax and watch the polder landscape float by.

We had a lovely dinner at Lamme Goedzak restaurant. The chefs, father and son, serve a refined daily-fresh cuisine and there’s a cosy outside seating area.

Lamme Goedzak is a character in the novel ‘De Legende van Uilenspiegel’ and features as the side-kick with whom Damme-native Tijl Uilenspiegel has many adventures.

For a more casual vibe and lively buzz you can opt for De Smisse, where we had a tasteful lunch.

During this little two-day trip we also explored Zwin Dunes and Polders nature reserve at nearby Knokke-Heist.

From seaside to Damme is only a 20′ drive by car. From North Sea blues to inland greens, best of both worlds…

Evening sets in and the sunset glow that warms Damme creates the perfect idyllic background to reflect on a wonderful stay…we’ll be back!

Do join me next time when looking back on passage of the Tall Ships in Antwerp and we are in full prep mode for a trip to French Opal Coast so that’s also in the blog’s pipeline.

Ingrid

xxx

https://www.visitdamme.be/en

https://www.natuurenbos.be/zwinduinen

https://delammegoedzak.be/MenuLG

A week in Tuscany-part 1: Asciano

We recently visited Asciano, (Tuscany, Italy) a small historical town south of Siena and much to our joy not overrun by tourists.

In fact, if the name does ring a bell to you, it is probably because of its position at the very heart of the so-called Crete Senesi (Siennese clays) with its characteristic lunar-like landscape of biancane and calanchi.

The unique combination of white clay rocks and gully erosion finds its origin in Pliocene when this area was covered by sea (even now fossilized fish teeth are sometimes found)

Not many vineyards or olive trees here in this part of Tuscany, instead a patchwork of fields (wheat, sunflowers,rapeseed,…) shifting colours depending the season and, as often, the soil and its typical vegetation (shrubs and herbs,…) have a distinct influence on the flavour of some locally grown produce. (Pecorino delle Crete Senesi for example)

Book a guided tour with Vademecum Tours and Alessandro will tell you all about this region’s history and its geographical marvels. We could only do a part of the tour (my health and mobility were far from optimal that day) but even the smallest hike reveals breathtaking views.

To explore this region we flew on Firenze airport and rented us some wheels. As always we opted for the all-included packages of Sunny Cars.

We stayed in centrally located Hotel La Pace, offering comfortable rooms with breakfast. There’s a restaurant, open every evening serving Tuscan cuisine and the outdoor swimming pool is a bonus!

Asciano has a lovely small historical center and is partly surrounded by medieval walls. The city is easily walkable with all major to-sees on or near the main street. At the lower end of the main street you will find the tourist office and the Etruscan and Sacred Art Museum, for those into archaeology and Etruscan and medieval art. At the other end of the street you will find the Basilica di Sant’Agata (and welcoming steps to rest) and Torre della Mencia.

There’s also a beautiful travertine fountain (15th century) at Piazza del Grano.

Food-wise we especially enjoyed the Tuscan-Siennese cuisine and local wines at Ristorante La Mencia.

As for an aperitivo or little lunch or snack we highly recommend Bar Gaston. A Campari (or Apérol) spritz and ham and cheese platter, all local produce, combined with the warm welcome by Davide is the perfect way to kick off the evening or afternoon. Located at a central spot in the village, it is also perfetto per osservare le persone!

And then of course the famous cypress trees, majestic wind-breakers brought to Tuscany by the Etruscans…so symbolic for this region and there’s no Tuscan postcard where this tall green giant doesn’t take its moment of glory.

a perfect spot to admire the landscape and shoot the trees is the Punto Panoramico Crete Senesi at Agr. Baccoleno, and equally many other viewpoint…)

In part two of this series I’ll take you with me exploring Siena, San Gimignano and of course Firenze (and its rural surroundings). Join me then?

Ingrid

xxx

http://www.sunnycars.com/

https://www.vademecumtours.com/

https://www.hotellapace.net/

https://www.visittuscany.com/en/destinations/asciano/

https://www.visitcretesenesi.it/en/

https://www.lamencia.it/it/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/gastonasciano/