Getaway to Siena, Italy
If the Amalfi Coast is painted with shimmering pastels and flecks of gold, Siena, the jewel of Tuscany, is painted with bold, linear strokes of rich pigment aged over time.
Scott and I spent a day in Siena, back in 2003, punctuated by wrong turns, a stint mistakenly driving in the no-vehicle zone and an epic heat wave. When we finally settled in and enjoyed the charms of an al fresco dinner, we vowed to return to this hilltop city someday. Siena was Scott's top choice as a destination for our summer in Italy, so this was our time to revisit.
We arrived in Siena via a luxury bus from Florence. Our smooth arrival quickly turned into a 30-minute panic involving a missing wallet (again!), containing a stack of Euros and our credit card. Scott had been pickpocketed on our first day in Lisbon several years ago and we had the same sinking feeling. By using some stealth memory skills --of a missing curtain and royal blue upholstery -- we finally located the unmarked bus, among the 30 or so parked buses. We spotted an off-duty bus driver, and following some pleading and the pro-offer of a monetary reward, he popped the lock on "our" bus. Scott bounded up the stairs and immediately spotted his wallet which had fallen between the seats. We were now bathed in sweat, with blisters rising on our feet, but incredibly relieved to have the wallet in possession. Looking back there were a few comedic moments, picture Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, with us running around, luggage in tow, trying to find our bus before it departed.
At long last, our reward was to be in Siena!
The architectural details capture the imagination in Siena.
The food and dining options in Siena are unforgettable. Among Italians, there is a passion towards food and wine that is contagious. Not only are the flavors fresh and lively, but the recipes and vines are steeped in the history of the region. Even the dishware represents centuries-old family history as we learned during a private wine tasting.
In Siena we were seeking an authentic, medieval city experience for our three-day stay. I researched long and hard to find a place, in the historic city center, that was charming and peaceful. We ended selecting a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in a former monastery. We were so pleased with our choice, owned by gracious Anna and Franco. I look forward to sharing our experience staying at their "luminous apartment' in an upcoming post.
Whether a hotel or a private apartment, staying in the city center allows for easy access to a number of historic attractions, as well as the iconic, fan-shaped Piazza del Campo and the heart of the city. It is ideal for wandering, dining, shopping, or lounging on the stones of the square to capture the light show that is 'evening' in this place. It is dazzling!
In Siena, if you pay attention, you can feel the rhythms of history, ancient battles fought, and the rich traditions of the area that continue. If you are fortunate enough to visit on July 2nd or August 16th you will witness the Palio of Siena festival where locals from the 17 neighborhoods compete. Though we visited in mid-July we were treated to a parade complete with horses, drummers, unfurled flags and cheering crowds in preparation for the Palio on August 16th. Palio is a deeply felt, emotional experience for the Sienese and fascinating to experience as a visitor.
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*ALL IMAGES HEATHER LINDSTROM - Curated Travel