After five beautiful days on the coast we made our way inland to Tuscany and the first of three towns we are visiting in Italy’s most famous region, Siena.
We arrived in Siena at 8 pm and got extremely lost trying to get to our B&B. After an hour of confusion and frustration we finally found the right narrow, curvy street and after checking in we ventured out to grab some cheap pizza and wine. Since we arrived when it was dark we did not see the beautiful view from our window until we woke up the next morning.
On our first morning in Siena it was rainy and cold, so even though we were not too thrilled by the idea of spending the day inside the church and museum we bought the combo ticket which got us into the Siena Cathedral, the museum next door, the catacombs and the Baptistery. The catacombs and Baptistery were pretty lame (we don’t even have any pictures) and the museum contained some of the original works from the Cathedral, which we were going to see anyway (so again, kind of lame), but from the museum you can climb a tower and get an amazing view of all of Siena and the surrounding countryside. It was almost worth paying extra for the combination ticket just for the views from the top.
While the rest of Siena’s main attractions were a little disappointing the Cathedral was anything but. It is easily my favorite church I have ever been in. It is strange and eclectic looking and does not look like any other church I have ever been inside. The striped black and white columns and the night-looking dome were the highlights for me and the cool stonework on the floor was the icing on the bottom of the cake.
We ate more pizza for lunch (mine was potato with rosemary and was SOOOO good) and despite the cold we ate our daily helping of gelato. For dinner we decided to splurge a little and went to a little trattoria where we got boar prosciutto, tortellini with pumpkin sauce and pasta with boar sauce. YUM!
Since we saw the main attractions of Siena on our first day we decided to take to bus to the small hill town of San Gimignano on our second day. San Gimignano is a beautiful, typical Tuscan hill town, filled with artisan shops selling leather goods, cured meat, cheese and wine to the hoards of tourists who wander its streets each day. Since we are early in the season there were not a TON of people in town and the cold and cloudy weather did not encourage walking around outside all day. We walked pretty much every street in the small town, and then walked around town on a beautiful and nearly empty path that ran along the city walls.
In the main square is an award winning gelataria (at least that’s what the sign said) where we got some of the best and most unique gelato of the trip so far. We had raspberry with rosemary, grapefruit with champagne, blackberry with lavender, saffron cream with pine nuts, and saffron cream with almonds, orange peel and honey. It was so delicious and we seriously considered going back for more later in the day.
We liked Siena just fine. It is a pretty town, with a really cool church, and some nice day trips. We probably could have skipped staying there and visited as a day trip from Florence, but our B&B was comfortable, the view from our room was great, we ate some yummy food and despite the gross weather (pretty much no sunshine the whole time) we had a nice time.