Saturday in Siena

On Saturday morning we bid farewell to Gorgio at Residenza Giotto – Silvia had bid us an effusive goodbye complete with two kisses the day before – and took a cab to the bus station.  Everything worked swimmingly and in an hour and a half we were in Siena.
Palazzo Bruchi is in one of the medieval streets with barely enough room for cars to pass.  Pedestrians scatter in various directions, or don’t even bother, when they hear the angry Vespas coming up behind them, or the local buses lumbering along.  It’s very different from Florence: many fewer tourists and a much more medieval feel.

Our room is not big but the two double windows are generously sized, reaching the timbered ceiling and looking out on the courtyard below.  The Palazzo has seven B&B rooms and the rest is apartments, a few belonging to Camilla’s aunt, sister and cousin and the others rented out, I guess.  We’ve witnessed a few quarrels in the courtyard as well as chalk drawings by children, so I guess it’s a family affair.
We went out in search of lunch and eventually, with lots of help (either the address was wrong or we were just confused), came upon the so-called skyscraper, a little hole in the wall where we ordered a mixed plate by pointing at what looked good – mashed cauliflower, prosciutto, etc., and a glass of red wine.  Fortified, we walked through town, always uphill, stopping at a few ceramics shops and noticing the ubiquitous wolf – Siena’s symbol like its arch-rival Florence’s lion.  
Though the Campo was beckoning, we continued on to the Duomo.  This was very different from Florence’s bare Duomo.  It’s famous for its gorgeous mosaic floors with mythological scenes as well as intricate border designs like this one,and for the Piccolomini Library, decorated with frescoes detailing the life of a the Sienese Pope Pius II who started out a bad boy but had a change of heart. Here he is looking back at us as he sets off for the Council of Basel.

The library is not large, and with the frescoes and other decorations covering every inch, it’s a beautiful space.
We walked over to the Duomo Museum to see yet more ART.  Duccio is the big name here, with his Maesta the big draw, along with his original stained glass windows.
We finally walked down to the Campo and were not disappointed. It’s a huge space, made even larger because you come to it through narrow streets with no vistas at all.  It’s comfortably full of people at all hours.
Dinner this evening was at La Torre, which came highly recommended somewhere or other.  It was a great experience.  You sit down in the brightly lit room and the lugubrious owner comes over and recites a list of pasta dishes.  No asking you what you want, just the assumption that you’ll start with that.  So of course we did – pici for me and ravioli for Alison.  Then Alison had the wild boar stew and I had pigeone, more genteelly called squab.  This was accompanied by fiaschetti of plain red wine.  All of it was delicious, and all of it was dished up in the small kitchen in the front of the restaurant, where four people took care of everything.  We knew we would be back!

2 responses to “Saturday in Siena

  1. What is pici? Fish?? No, that’s pesce, right? Please enlighten me.
    As I write this I am munching on a sandwich made from some used up cucumbers and a not very good tofu/herb spread. Underripe strawberries to follow.

  2. Pici is a fat kind of spaghetti, a local treat. There’s pesce, which is fish, and pesche, which are peaches. The locals pronounce pici as peeshee, not peechee. And that’s all I know about that!

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