Siena has definitely been one of the most chaotic stops on our tour, but we’ve also tasted the most wonderful food.
We eventually arrived in Siena by bus 3 hours later than planned due to train delays. Siena is a beautiful medieval city with winding roads, all leading to the central Piazza il Campo and contained within its ancient city walls. We spent the first afternoon exploring the city to get our bearings and picked up a couple of pizza slices topped with prosciutto, mozzarella & rocket and some olive bread – delicious and great value at under €4.
By the time dinner came around, we were completely carb’d out. Nothing was appealing to us apart from steak and vegetables, so we stopped for an aperitif in the Campo to read over some menus. We decided to go to Osteria La Sosta di Violante, a small restaurant close to the university. At this point we were completely oblivious to the fact that steak (Bistecca alla fiorentina) is a local speciality in Tuscany. Bistecca essentially means ‘big steak’ – a huge T bone steak flame grilled and served rare for a table to share, priced per 100g (€3.50-5) with a minimum spend of around a kilogram. Still fixated on our steak and vegetable idea, we initially tried to suggest a side of mixed vegetables but were quickly put back in our place by the waitress and effectively told we were having it the traditional way – with roast potatoes and spinach. She recommended a glass of DOCG Brunello di Montalcino wine – a premium wine but was only €4.50 a glass. She couldn’t have been more right. The steak was absolutely incredible – so tender and marbled throughout giving a beautiful and intense meaty flavour. I don’t think we’re going to be eating steak in the UK anytime soon, it was honestly the best steak I’ve ever eaten. The roast potatoes were seasoned with rosemary and sea salt and were really tasty despite how carb’d out we felt before. The spinach was also great, dressed simply in lemon and olive oil. The red wine matched brilliantly well too. All of this was for around €25 each – amazing value and one of the cheapest evening meals we’ve eaten since being in Italy.
We got up early the next morning to explore the hundreds of boutique shops, after quite a sophisticated hotel breakfast involving a pancake making machine. We’d heard about the wild boar in Tuscany too, so met up in the central piazza at lunch for a delicious baguette filled with aged wild boar sausage, pecorino, tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic. We got a Birra Moretti and a lovely little almond biscuit similar to a macaron (‘cantuccini’) included in the ‘light lunch’ deal – which was not so light 😬, but for €7 it was a bargain!
The storm was so bad that all the restaurants were closing up so we were effectively stuck in the hotel. Instead of going out for dinner we watched the Da Vinci Code in bed with a kebap (kebab in a wrap) – a guilty pleasure of ours 🙈. In all fairness there is a lot of kebab shops in Siena so they’re obviously quite popular here and it was actually really good. We’d never seen such a methodical kebab making process 😂.
Next stop – Florence 🇮🇹🚊. Looking forward to a vineyard and winery tour on Thursday🍷.
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