Despite lots of great potential content, I didn’t write much about our fabulous trip to Europe last spring.* Over the next couple of weeks, I will rectify that by sharing snippets from my travel journal in the “Looking back at . . . ” series.
Siena, April 1-2, 2011
Friday (4/1): Up at 5:30am to make the first train out of Vernazza on our flight to reach Florence while the guaranteed trains were still running. [There are some trains that run during the morning and evening rush hours, even during train strikes.] Three trains later (Vernazza to La Spezia, La Spezia to Pisa, and Pisa to Florence), we arrived in Florence a bit after 9am on one of the last trains running.
Fortunately, the best way from Florence to Siena is actually bus, and not train. Next thing we knew, we were on the “rapida” bus to Florence. The driver took the “rapida” part very seriously, which made for an interesting ride, especially through the narrow, crowded streets of Florence.
After a stressful, but still surprisingly smooth, morning of travel, we made it to Siena before noon – masters of navigating Italian train strikes.
In Siena, our B&B (Casa di Antonella) came with kitchen access and was conveniently located next to a nice market, which provided a delicious, affordable, and veggie heavy lunch (plus delicious pears and kiwi, grown in Italy).
Our time in Siena was pretty low key. We discovered and thoroughly enjoyed their secret botanical garden (Orto Botanico: very nice, with carpets of flowers and moss steps), walked around the top of the fortress and viewed the city (La Fortezza), walked through the campanile, and viewed the Duomo from the outside.
We found a decent pizza place for Friday night dinner, and were planning a splurge dinner for Saturday night at Da David, but were turned off by their attitude and the smell of smoke when we stopped by to make reservations. We ended up dining at Osteria da Cice, where I enjoyed a nice pasta dish with kale and we found our first menu with a non-meat secondi, grilled vegetables with smoked cheese.
We also added to our souvenirs in Siena, purchasing some of the extra fresh dried porcinis (Consorzio Agrario, also place we bought pici), truffle-infused pici (a regional pasta), and a pretty wooden soup ladle and baby spoon, locally carved from olive wood (Il Casale).
The best ricciarelli came from Nannini bakery (also good pastries), and we had a great gelato combo: dark chocolate (chocolate fondante), vanilla cherry, and pistachio (Gelateria KopaKabana; we also liked Gelateria Mascellano).
Other: Pizzicheria Wine Bar (for Panini ingredients, on way to Orto Botanica), moist citrus ricciarelli & good whole wheat baguette (Il Magnifico SRL), skipped dinner at Antica Osteria Da Divo, pizza at Pizzeria Di Nonno Mede
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