Blogs from Siena, Tuscany, Italy, Europe


Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 18th 2019

Today was another 8:30am pickup from our villa in Bucine for our visit to the hilltop towns of Siena and San Gimignano. Both have a lot of buildings made of red brick, a characteristic of medieval (rather than Renaissance) towns. Siena is a university town with a university hospital doing a lot of oncology research. The town was built on the Via Cassia, the second oldest Roman road built by the Cassius. As we were driving into the city centre, we saw it was market day so we stopped for an hour to have a coffee, look at the Basilica Cateriniana di San Dominico and then mooch around the markets for a while. These were local markets, so as well as the usual tourist souvenir junk, they had everything for the locals like underwear, clothes, jeans, ... read more
190918 3 Basilica Cateriniana
190918 4 Basilica Cateriniana & Siena Basilica
190918 5 Siena markets

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena June 24th 2019

As much as we hated to leave the relaxing atmosphere and comfort of Borgo San Luigi, it was time to explore more of the Tuscan Valley. After last night's late night dinner, today was scheduled for a "relaxed start" which means we didn't leave the hotel until 8:30, which means a little extra sleep before a quick breakfast and heading out for our first stop in Siena. Maureen told me she liked this city, and once we arrived, it was easy to see why. Siena is an ancient Gothic walled city built on a series of hills.The ride over from Borgo San Luigi was through some of the most beautiful countryside in the Tuscan Valley, with rolling hills, vineyard fields and villas at the tops of the hills. Since Siena is at the top of these ... read more
Siena - Entrance Gate
Siena - City Streets
Siena - City Square

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena June 9th 2019

9/6/2019 – Sienna Pinksterenzondag. Verplaatsing van Passignano naar Sienna. Siena schrijven ze hier. +- 90 km hoofdzakelijk langs een gratis autostrade. Gratis wil hier zeggen 'in slechte staat'. Kan dus nog erger dan bij ons. Op de middag stonden we dus al op onze nieuwe stek op een weeral prijzige camping. 35.50 € per dag, low season price, maar alles inbegrepen. Gratis douchen, gratis elektriek, gratis wifi, gratis zwembad, restaurant ter plaatse, en busstop naar het historisch centrum van Siena op 150 m. Omdat het zondagsdienst was slechts om het uur een bus. Die van 13.50 konden we nog net tegenhouden. Moderne bus ook. Airco en Italiaanse aankondiging van elke volgende stop. Met de kaart in de hand met aanduiding van de terminus waar we moesten afstappen een makkie. We zagen het centrum naderen en weer ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena October 7th 2018

As our travels in Italy come to an end, we wanted to share the places we found that are definitely worth visiting on your next trip. In Siena we recommend: · VRBO Flat - Palazzo Giorgio, Vicolo del Bargello, 5 Siena – owner Rossella Donato. Great location and terrific space. Good for Palio but noisy at night leading up to Palio. · PorriOne, Via del Porrione, 28 Siena 53100 Tel 0577 221442 Very elegant food and wine selection. Taste treats all around. It is expensive but worth the taste sensations. · Archivio del Gusto, Via di Monna Agnese, 8 Siena 53100 Tel 0577 601676 Wonderful location near the duomo with seafood specialties. Lobster linguini and good wine selection. ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 29th 2018

What a night we had (but not as bad as it might have been). A 5-person soft rock group by the name of Lo Stato Sociale performed from 9PM until Midnight. The setup – stage, lights, huge SOUND system and fog machine – took two days to prepare (with regular testing of the sound system … which rattled the windows in the flat). When the concert was in full swing there were about a thousand young people dancing and clapping and singing along with the band. Most enjoyable to watch from our vantage point. At the end, the main vocalist climbed out onto the crowd and was moved around and then deposited back on the stage for the finale. Great fun. Of course the band dismantled their equipment from midnight until 2AM so there were some ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 28th 2018

Rosella, Peggy and John sat around much of the morning and chatted about life and family and travel before Francesco (Rosella’s dear friend) came by to pick her up. What a gentleman, driving from Bastia to make sure she got back safely. We loved the time we have had with Rosella and look forward to getting together in Umbria in the near future … and having Francesco prepare his special chinghale ragu! Peggy and John went out to eat on the way to Santa Caterina’s sanctuary. The chosen restaurant was Ristorante Grotta Santa Caterina and when we arrived at 12:15 it was half full with a Chinese tour group. Needless to say, the staff was welcoming and we settled in a corner and ordered scaloppini and cinghale with thick noodles. Within a few minutes another tour ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 27th 2018

Today Rosella was good enough to share her extensive knowledge of art and history and took us to Piazza Pubblico, the city hall with a frescoed history of the Sienese republic. The most important works are in the Hall of Good and Bad Government. This incredible allegorical work (by Ambrogio Lorenzetti) from the 14thCentury shows exactly what is necessary for a city state to sustain itself and its people. The room is divided into three walls: one for the effects of “bad” government, one of the effects of “good” government, and one representing the values and virtues that must be considered to create good over bad. This representation from almost 600 years ago is just as accurate today as it was when it was created. In the midst of the representation of “bad” governance is a ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 26th 2018

Breakfast at the flat on this chilly morning. What a difference one day makes. We walked to the Opera dell Duomo museum which is known for the altar piece but for little else other than the panoramic views from the partially finished apse that was stopped being built by the 1348 plague when two thirds of the population died. The plan, as can be easily seen, was to build a church that would rival St Peter’s. We also took in the Baptistery which was build on the side of the hill below the duomo’s high altar. Quality of the sacred font was beautiful, including Ghiberti’s Baptism of Chirst and Donatello’s Feast of Herod. Afterwards we met up with our dear friend Rosella who lives in Bastia and settled in for a long lunch at Archivio Del ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 25th 2018

John was up in the dark and catching the sunrise over the fortress at the north end of town. Imagine the thrill of finding this defensible hilltop of tufa stone. Easy to carve out the battlements and a well deep into the hillside. What a lovely start to the day, walking the old battlements and enjoying the peacefulness. John went into one of the community gardens and a gentleman in fine business attire (and smart briefcase) looked in and asked what he was doing. When told he said how much he loved this city and its gardens. “Have a nice holiday” he said as he left. Since Orvieto is so close to Rome, it is possible he was catching the early train to the big city. And there was a small bus with Rome as its ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena September 25th 2018

Ahhh, we slept in today. Perhaps the pace has slowed and we are recovering ourselves. We had a our breakfast in the flat and then made our way to the Duomo to take in the incredible art and workmanship. Of course it was crowded and we had to move with the wave of tourists, but it was worth the wait. The pulpit by Pisano was incredible, detailed and moving. The Piccolomino Library was superb with its frescoes and illuminated manuscripts (to be sung from). Peggy is moved by the workmanship and the beauty. We moved around the altar and the choir seats and were amazed at the inlaid woodwork done for each seat. Imagine spending months or years creating something that has lasted centuries but nobody knows who did it. The only reason we know about ... read more

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