Medieval Flair & Hearty Fare in Siena

Siena! We did little here besides drinking in the Tuscan air, wine and festivity.

Tuscan food is quite heavy (wild boar, tripe, soup so thick you eat it with a fork), it wouldn’t be my first choice in terms of cuisine. But the ingredients are very fresh, the boar is chock full of grown-in-the-wild flavor, the meal is hearty and the plentiful wine washes it all down.

All in all, I’d give our dinner in Siena a second-place ranking for best meals in Italy.

Il Campo, the town’s main square. Siena more or less radiates outward along steep, narrow pedestrian streets from here. It’s a unique, charming city that feels suspended in time. I could completely imagine a Carnival happening here, with colorfully garbed harlequins running amok by torchlight.

Well, the scenes here can also be more modern. We went to Trattoria dei Papei, which sits cozily in the corner of a small plaza that you burst out onto from the quiet walled streets.

Ah, this wine was so good. I don’t even usually like reds. But I wanted to take this bottle home. I should have, in fact.

We had the funniest waiter — named Renato — who looked and acted the part of a Williamsburg hipster. Thickrimmed glasses, plaid shirt and all. He namedropped Brooklyn pretty much out of the blue, and looked quite pleased with himself when we called him an Italian hipster. And at the end of dinner, he gave us quite a few free glasses of dessert wine, all of which A drank because I didn’t like it much.

Pappardelle al cinghiale— wild boar ragu. Zesty.

Trippa alla senese – tripe with tomato sauce, a local specialty.

Not pictured: Tuscan bean soup, literally so hearty I ate it with a fork.

Il Campo in the wee hours – quite a happenin’ place to be!

Torre del Mangia – the City Tower, and the Town Hall.

The courtyard of the Alma Domus, the convent turned hotel where we stayed. It was exactly what you might expect – comfortable, clean, no frills.

Ah, remember how I mentioned colorfully garbed harlequins running around the medieval town? Well, the next morning, we heard drums. Then we walked out of our hotel to see this. Apparently in the summer months, every Sunday one of the city’s seventeen districts holds a parade around the town, flags, jester suits and all.

Naturally, we joined the parade.

And then we wandered through the marketplace while we waited for our bus. There wasn’t really much to look at, though; the quality of the goods sold here was subpar to Florence, and so was the, uh, fashion sensibility too. Siena definitely felt like the boonies compared to cosmopolitan Firenze, but it was a quaint, charming city to stop by!

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