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Report 1924: Another Attempt at La Dolce Vita!

By Podie from Florida, Spring 2011

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Page 6 of 13: To the Medieval Town of Siena

photo by Celeste Rubanick

Il Campo in Siena

We got up early and were waiting for Angelo to open Bar Farnese at 6:30am. We had our coffee and cornetti and said goodbye, then got our luggage and took a taxi to Tiburtina Bus Station to go to Siena.

The station was crowded but buying the ticket was a snap and we stood there to wait. We were very early as usual. Seats were assigned and Rich and I were in separate rows but alone in our rows so we had plenty of room.

Unfortunately I was right in front of the small bathroom on the bus, which was very annoying at times, but I still napped more than an hour. We started talking with a couple from South Carolina, Bill and Patty, and left the bus together. We walked a few blocks and then split up.

Luckily I was able to find our B&B with little trouble. The cobblestones were rough on our rolling carry-ons so I was glad I'd chosen Antica Residenza Cicogna, which was closer to the bus stop than most of the B&B's.

Our room was basic but clean, and a little smaller than I'd expected. Since it was May 30th, air conditioning was not yet available and it was warm in the room. The bathroom was tight but the shower was excellent. We freshened up, left all the windows open to air out the room, had a quick bite at Zest Winebar around the block, and headed for Il Campo, the center of Siena.

This town absolutely captivated me. From the curved buildings lining the Campo to the large expanse of open space in the middle, it was amazing. In no time at all, Rich had a gelato in hand and had spotted Bill and Patty from the bus.

We invited them to share our rental car the next day and go with us to Montalcino and Montepulciano, and they agreed. Happy, we went to our 4-6pm wine tasting class (40 each) at the Tuscan Wine School.

The two hour class lasted three hours, the wine flowed freely, and somehow both of us actually learned about wine! From there we went to La Taverna di San Giuseppe, where we were told we could be seated but only until 9pm when they were all booked up. We agreed.

This was an especially lovely experience. The very handsome waiter spoke perfect English and told us he was from the Onda contrada, which means wave but uses a dolphin as its symbol. There are 17 contrade, or neighborhoods, in Siena, and they take care of a person from birth to death.

We ordered a 50 Brunello, ensuring it would match what we planned to eat, and since it needed to breathe, the waiter took us for a tour of the basement wine cellar, explaining it had once been a street in Siena. Back at our table, the waiter explained the Brunello had not breathed enough, and offered us complimentary prosecco or a glass of younger Brunello. We went with the wine.

I forget what we had for antipasti, but I clearly remember my most delicious bistecca fiorentina. It was delicious, as was Rich's pici (local pasta made with flour and water only) with wild boar (cinghiale) sauce. Then we had dessert and grappa and staggered out of there for 129.

Another special meal, and so worth it!

Drawn to the Campo, it was amazing this time of night. It was 9pm but only dusk, and we sat on the ground and watched the birds ride the air currents above the buildings and around the clock tower. The weather was gorgeous and I could have sat there all night.

But we went back and went to bed instead. The pigeons outside our window did not.

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