Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sightseeing in Siena

We ended up having a great time in Siena. It is a quiet, walled, medieval town, with lots of windy roads and plenty of sights to see. We saw its famous square, where its famous horse race is run each year. We went to the museum so we could climb the 'panorama' wall attached to it, with views over all of the tiled roofs and out to the tuscan hills. And we went into the Duomo - which was quite a speccy church.

The main attraction for us in Siena though was the nearness to the Chianti wine region, which we explored on our "Chianti and Castles tour". As part of the tour, we visited two little medieval towns. One was the capital of Chianti. The other was a town built when Siena and Florence were at war. They were both surrounded by walls and were really pretty. Then we hit the wineries.

Wine tastings are quite different in Italy to Australia. They take you on a tour of their entire winery, showing you all of the different steps in the wine making process.. then they sit you at a table with cheese, salami, bread, oil, etc and you work your way through the wines. It is more of a formal situation compared to ours, with the wine makers talking you through each wine and demonstrating how to taste properly and explore the colour, smell, etc.

We visited one 'big' winery (which still seemed pretty small) and then a really small one run by just one guy. This was the best one as it was very personal. And he had great cheese!

There was 5 other people in our tour. An American couple, a Philipino couple and a solo American traveller who is studying Opera in Italy. After our tasting she got up and sang a little opera for us.. and then we all drank Grappa. A wonderful taste of Tuscany.

That night we ensured that we tasted some Tuscan specialties recommended to us by our tour guide. Adam had a pasta with Wild Boar sauce (similar to bolognaise but much richer) and a pizza. Jess had a bread and vegetable soup specific to the area, followed by pici (a thick tuscan spaghetti) in a pesto sauce. Adams dishes won hands down. Man, are we getting fat...

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