Alas … we leave our home base of Montepulciano in Tuscany and set out for our last destination inland before we hit the coast. Siena is one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval cities and a Tuscan centre for art and culture. We can’t wait to spend a romantic night in the midst of its gothic charm.
As we drive our little black Volkswagen UP through the rolling hills, we reminisce about our amazing time in this corner of Tuscany. A quick stop to return our car rental in Chiusi and we hop the train for the hour and a bit train ride to Siena.
If you are travelling between cities in Italy, the train is the way to go … only 9 euros to Siena, very comfortable and fast! You can buy your tickets at the station, online or “on the go” with your mobile device at www.trenitalia.com .
Upon our arrival, we jump into a taxi and take the short ride to Palazzo Ravizza, the first and only hotel that we stay in during our Italian adventure. The Airbnb choices in Siena are minimal, and because we were only staying one night, we opted for this historic hotel. Our attic room was something right out of Game of Thrones and although it was a bit of a surprise, we did think it was pretty cool … complete with lookout over the ancient city and doors made for much smaller humans. People were really short in mediaeval times.
First stop, pranzo (lunch of course)! We decide on a typical Tuscan lunch, prosciutto and pecorino, with a glass of Chianti. Eating on the go from one of the numerous panino shops is an inexpensive and delicious choice. By the way, in Italy you can drink wine, beer or any alcoholic drink on the streets … funny thing is … you don’t see drunk people, only very happy people!
Next stop, the Duomo di Siena … almost overwhelming! The Duomo was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263. I won’t go into the historic or architectural details (just click on the link) but as you can see, the cathedral is a sight to behold.
After our incredible self-guided tour we make our way back to the hotel, admiring the sights along the way. Siena is a very walkable city.
The garden patio at Palazzo Ravizza is splendid. We head for some shade and order gin and tonics for aperitivo hour, which always comes with a few pre-dinner snacks. The view is spectacular and we even get to hear distant drums rehearsing for the upcoming Palio di Siena, the famed mediaeval horse races held every summer in the central piazza, Il Campo. Although we missed the Palio, there are so many beautiful sights in Siena that visitors enjoy themselves all year round.
A quick shower and change of clothes and we’re off again! We’re heading over to Vivace, a lovely little restaurant we saw on our way back to the hotel. The vistas overlooking the ancient city are incredible in the sunset, and while we enjoy the excellent food and wine, we are entertained by an American couple who have been living in Siena for the past five years and have an abundance of stories to tell. We could definitely see ourselves living here.
We cannot get enough of the quaint streets, boutiques and café’s and head out for an after dinner stroll. Funny thing about Italy … because you walk everywhere, you actually lose weight on vacation, even with the copious eating and drinking! We find ourselves in the main piazza, literally teaming with people of all ages enjoying the warm evening. We stop for an after dinner drink and enjoy the sights and sounds … absolute magic!
Tomorrow morning we are off again and will be exploring the southern coast of Tuscany, but for now, we will sleep peacefully in our Renaissance Palace and dream of centuries past.