Viva La Italia – Part 3 – Siena and Lucca

We left the Umbria region and continued our journey to the very beautiful Siena in Tuscany. Out of all the places we visited in Italy, Siena was my favorite. It’s a small medieval-esq town with stunning landscapes and glorious cuisine, and has just the right balance between contemporary and historical lifestyle. Majority of the retail stores open until very late (I did a lot of retail therapy after 9pm), while some restaurants still close around 10pm, most of them located in Piazza del Campo stay very busy until midnight. We were in Siena shortly after the biannual Palio horse race. Imagine this – It’s 11pm at night, sitting outside in the magnificent medieval square of Piazza del Campo in the 70F weather and a very pleasant breeze, enjoying a late Tuscany dinner. Then comes the drumming from the winners of the Palio race, parading around town along with everyone from the winning contrade, there are flags waving everywhere and all the bystanders are cheering loudly. What an exciting way to end the day!

There are restaurants in every corner and alleyway. I didn’t do any research beforehand and wanted to be spontaneous and dine at random eateries. We passed by Bar La Favorita (Siena – P.zza Matteotti, 30-32. Tel. +39 0577.283282) decided to have a quick lunch here, not knowing we would be returning to the same restaurant later for an included group dinner. Friendly service and pretty good food, modern and clean decoration, completed with an great selection of gelati and pastries.

Caffe Shakerato, a drink that you must know when you need a quick caffeine kick that will also cool you down. This is basically an iced espresso, unsweetened and shaken with ice, serve without ice in a tall glass.

Just another smooth caffe latte.

Tuna and onion pizza. I’ve been dying to try this combo ever since a friend told me about it from his visit to Italy. And bam, there it was. There are no words to describe this, but it was so delicious I ate the whole thing…

paper thin crust, right amount of crispiness and chewy-ness.

We had a lot of meat and potato type of dishes on our trip, this was one that stood out. Thinly sliced pork loin, stuffed with pesto, served with crispy potatoes. Simple, but very comforting.

Dessert time! Bar La Favorita is also a gelateria. Strawberry, cantaloupe, and fior de latte (kind of like a milky vanilla.) I WANT SOME NOW!

The absolutely gorgeous Duomo di Siena. If I remember correctly, white and black are the symbolic colors of Siena.

Yes, our choir group sang in here as well. It was an impromptu performance after given the okay from the church. Look at the columns! The floor is also covered with mosaic patterns made from marble. The Piccolomini Library inside the cathedral has beautiful manuscripts and choir books on display.

A picture of Piazza del Campo. This is also where the Palio horse race takes place every year. As you can see, it’s a small track but imagine thousands of people spectating the race.

Osteria Il Ghibellino (Via dei Pellegrini, 6, 53100 Siena, Italy 0577 288079) A pretty awesome find for lunch.

Ossibuchi alla Senese (braised veal shank). This was only €8.50!

Fusilli salsiccia fresca e fiori di zucca (Fusilli with sausage and zucchini flowers)

They had quite a few dishes with zucchini flowers. Some stuffed with sausage, some with cheese, one even with calf brain. I ordered the basic unstuffed fried zucchini flower. Very sweet and tender.

Caffe Nannini (Via Massetana Romana, 56 53100 Siena -Italy). We sat right in the piazza del campo and had a delicious late dinner.

Brunello di Montalcino (Col di Lamo 2006), one of the best bottle of wine we had on the trip. The price isn’t pretty.

Pecorino cheese plate with honey, pickle, and zucchini bread. The Pecorino are all of different age.

Ribollita soup. This is a very famous Tuscan soup made with rustic bread and vegetables.

The winners from the Onda contrade parading around the Piazza.

A glass of chilled Vin Santo with some typical Senese desserts to finish the night.

After a couple of nights in Siena, we depart for Pisa, but stopped in Lucca on the way. There are lots of shops and boutiques in the very small town of Lucca. We were only there for one short afternoon and I picked up some leather goods, jewelry, and shoes. It was very hot so instead of gelato, I tried a chocolate flavored granita (a slushie dessert). Actually I think that was my lunch since this shopaholic was too busy shopping!

Gelato sandwiches.

Outdoor produce market. So tempted to buy some tomatoes but they wouldn’t last in the hot weather.

Where the famous composer Puccini was born.

Outside of the Duomo di Lucca (Cathedral of St. Martin), numerous vendors selling antiques or vintage goods.

Walking down some narrow alley way and admiring all the antiques.


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