48 hours in Siena

Where to start ………

Chatting away in the dusty Carpark with a Swiss family in Bagno Vignoni, we learnt that our next stop must be Siena, but it came with the warning

“It’s stunning but will be busy with tourists”

Warning taken and read, place to park found and coordinates entered into the satnav.

Although our home is described as an area de sosta, in reality the locals have taken it back as a Carpark, arriving a little earlier than the suggested 6pm, we had to squeeze into a car space until one on the larger spaces was vacated by a car…. (N43.3423 E11.30505).

A small amount of research has showed we could either catch the number 10 bus or walk for about 30 minutes to find the cities North Gate……

Siena, Italy north gate
So here we stand, pictures from that James Bond movie of the horse race running in though our minds, scared that sometimes the Hollywood image will be so far removed from the real thing that disappointment will destroy fantasy.

But we had need not worry.

As we walked along a series of narrow winding streets that were lined with gelaterias, coffee shops and shops selling local food produce. Eventually we got closer to the centre big brand names started to pop up and I realised that Siena was actually a lovely town for shopping as well as sight seeing.

But we are budget travellers so it will only be some window shopping for us! But if your after some amazing local food produce when in Italy, Siena is the place to do it. There are endless food shops selling local Italian produce such as pastas, WINE! biscotti, WINES,Cointreau, chocolate, WINE,olive oil, WINE, balsamic vinegar and sauces and did I mention WINE?

Window shopping for wine in Italy
 Michele was in heaven looking around the shops and seeing all the weird and wonderful produce. I had never seen so many types of pasta in my life !

There are heart-stopping Tuscan views surprising you constantly, and each perspective is just as memorable (if not more) than the last. 

More perfect narrow streets in Siena
 And as cliche as it sounds, it is totally true, walking the narrow, winding stone roads feels like it must have hundreds of years ago.

It seemed that we had, no choice but to make our first stop Piazza del Campo as all the signs led this way.

Piazza del Campo, Italy by motorhome
With its medieval stone, rich terracotta hues and unique sloping floor, it felt romantic, historic and epitomised old European charm.

We joined the morning crowds of cappuccino drinkers and payed our €4.50 each so that we could sit and drink in the views of this famous  square, as with any tourist hot spot, the prices of these cafes are double what you’ll find around the corner, but they can get away with charging more because of their amazing location.  

Expensive coffee €4.50
We both loved sitting in the sun doing a little people watching and taking in the atmosphere and listening to the locals, don’t you just love the fact the happier an Italian gets the louder and more animated they get !

After the second most expensive coffee ever, ( well we paid €10 On the Spanish steps in Rome) a bit of relaxing and people watching the never-ending characters in Piazza del Campo was in order.

This is the spot where the famous Palio Horse Race takes place, imagine if you will thousands of people packed into the centre of this square and the horses going at full tilt around the outside, remember the Bond movie now!

The central focus of the Piazza del Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico, which sits centrally in front of the sloping amphitheater-style floor. Connected to it is the Torre del Mangia, a 400 step tower that is the place to go for the highest and best panoramic views of Siena.

Leaving behind the Piazza, we found some more amazing streets which eventually lead us to the Cathedral which is part of a complex including the Crypt, the Baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera, all of which are housed between the “Duomo Vecchio” (Old Cathedral) and the “Duomo Nuovo” (New Cathedral).

the “Duomo Nuovo” (New Cathedral). Siena Italy

A couple more hours of walking and we had ticked off the rest of the churches and now needed something slightly different to look for ….

Wednesday is market day ! – forgot your English open air markets, with cheap tacky crud for sale, here in Siena it’s a fashion paradise, Hundred and Hundreds of clothes,bags and shoes- a taste of how the real Italian  ladies shop, plus the odd bit of homeware……

Wednesday is market day in Siena
Our final stopping place Orto de’ Pecci.  literally the “Pecci vegetable garden” is a tiny farm and vegetable garden with goats, geese, donkeys and chickens walking around, the perfect place for some rest. 

Orto de’ Pecci. , Italy by motorhome
 The Orto de’ Pecci used to be the garden and farmyard of Siena Mental Hospital, located just on top of the hill. Nowadays it’s managed by a social cooperative helping people with mental illness.

So yes Siena is busy with touirsts, but it’s definitely worth a visit!

Paul.

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