Friday, 25 May 2007

Siena Part 1: Arrival

I felt I already knew a fair bit about Siena since the historical rivalry between Siena and Florence means it comes up an awful lot in la storia di Firenze. I especially wanted to go because, while we are planning on going again in July for il Palio, I figured it would be so crazy at that time it would be impossible to take in the city and surrounds in peace. Plus who can argue with traveling around Tuscany in Spring time!

While we deliberately took three days out of our week to make it a leisurely, un-rushed trip, Linda and I are both of the type that can't stand to think we are missing out on something. This, plus the picturesque nature of the area, means I've decided it best I split this weekend up into three posts, for your benefit as much as mine.

We headed out of Florence on the 5pm Rapido bus on Friday and, arriving slightly disoriented about 2 hours later in Siena, we headed down towards our hotel to the sounds of drums from children rehearsing with their Contrada for the Palio ceremonies. Upon reaching our hotel, and finding it as plain as the price suggested, we headed out pretty much immediately towards piazza del Campo.

I had one of those it's-not-as-big-as-I-thought-it-would-be moments, but this passed very quickly as il Campo is a very pleasant place to spend your time (and anyway it actually it is pretty big). While most cities in Italy seem to be centred around their duomo, Siena's centre is most definitely il Campo, with tourists mixing with locals and little kids running around late into the night.

We identified a trattoria of good repute in our guide books and booked a table by phone (such a luxury) before strolling there in a round-about kind of a way so as to see a bit of the town.

I'd like to think I am a bit adventurous, but with eating I think it's more theoretical than actual. We ordered the mixed antipasti, however, upon its arrival I remembered a few of the more exotic options from the regular menu which must now be lurking on our giant platter of unidentifiable nibbles. I'm pretty sure I spotted the beef spleen and a blood sausage, which we both gave wide berth, but who knows what else we swallowed down. Anyway it was delicious and we lived to tell the tale so I'm sure it was nothing to be concerned about...

For primo piatto I had a delicious risotto with nettles and pecorino cheese, which was plenty adventurous after our entrés (not an Italian word).

After all this it was actually quite late so we wandered back to our hotel by way of il campo, shuttered our windows, plugged our ears and tried to get a good night's sleep.

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