I am honing my far niente skills in the golden light of Siena. Home is a fifth-floor walk-up overlooking the bell tower and zebra-striped cathedral of Santa Maria della Scala.
Siena’s glorious medieval centro, Piazza del Campo, is a luminous space where the Palio horserace has run since 1633.Don’t miss Bar Palio’s ricciarelli almond cookies with cappuccino — the “grande” is so generous it’s served in a bowl. This fragrant combination starts my day, work or play.Shopping opportunities abound, pop into a cheese and wine shop to for regional specialties like pecorino di Pienza, truffles or salumi di cinghiale, yum.Savor samples at Nino and Friends — pralines with hazelnut creme, espresso beans or lemon rind in dark chocolate. Try a slab of milk chocolate studded with pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts. Or just stand and stare at the chocolate waterfalls.
Teatro e Tesoro
Theater Boy joins me for a bit of Tuscan touring. He buys a silk necktie at Cravattificio di Siena for the occasion — and as Giusi predicted, it is orange. Lovely!
Siena’s Opa Si! pass allows visitors three days of access to the incredible cathedral complex, museum, bookshop and facciatone terrace.
Climb 130 narrow spiral stairs for panoramic bird’s eye views. Inside the cathedral — look up! Every direction holds a wow.Look down! Gorgeous marble mosaic floors tell the story of Revelation.
Vaulted crypts, below, hold treasured reliquaries, holy remains like tongues, teeth and jawbones of saints and martyrs. Seriously. The whole complex is a wow. Opera della Metropolitana di Siena is mind blowing.
Theater Boy and I are knocked out in the best possible sense. A celebratory evening meal of grilled octopus, nicely blackened, with chick pea puree, followed by Pici Cacio Pepe and steak Fiorentina. Like Mimmo’s, it’s gigantissimo. With a velvety Tuscan red, perfect.
Our time here has been wondrous. Tomorrow I return to my woolly work in the Tuscan Hills, and Theater Boy (of course!) visits a few theaters while we wait for David to arrive.
Up next: Montecarlo, Montecatini, Padova and Venice!