Weekend Getaway: Firenze e Siena
[gallery type="square" ids="274,281,272"] In Italy, November 1st is a big deal. Everyone takes the day off, either spending the holiday relaxing at home or heading out to the country for a short get-away. So, this past weekend Brad and I decided to take a short holiday. We had been talking about going back to Siena. A city that we had visited back in January during our three-week trip to Italy. At the same time, Brad had been talking with a few of his friends from Chicago, that just so happen to also be living in Italy right now too. (One is living up near Milan with his girlfriend, the other in Florence) So, we decided it was time for a big reunion. Unfortunately, when we tried to book a place in Siena we did not have any luck. Like, I said November 1st is a big holiday here and Siena is a very small town, so we just could not find a place. Then we had the thought, we could book a place in Florence and take a short train ride to Siena during our stay. We booked an apartment to stay at with Brad's friend, Jared from Milan and his girlfriend Rachel and made plans to meet up with our friend that is living in Florence.
On Friday, we woke up and headed to Florence. In Italy the most common way to travel is by train and it is fairly inexpensive depending on the type of train. Brad and I have found that the slower the train the cheaper the fare. So, although the train ride was about 3 hours long the cost to travel was pretty cheap. That night we met up with Jared and Rachel, dropped off our bags at the apartment and headed out for dinner at a traditional Florentine trattoria at a restaurant called Trattoria ZàZà . At dinner, both Brad and Jared had bistecca alla fiorentina, a traditional steak dinner plate from Florence. If you are ever in Florence, I highly recommend this dish. Rachel also had a steak dinner, however it was a different type of steak with a balsamic reduction. They all seemed very pleased with their dinners. As for me, I am pescatarian and went for another traditional meal from Florence, ribollita. Ribollita is a hearty soup found typically in Tuscany made with bread and vegetables. Everything was very delicious, however I must say this place was quite touristy and I am not sure if I would go back there again. Back in January, Brad and I visited Florence for the first time. Walking around the city amously we find another restaurant, Trattoria Pizzeria Dante in my mind that was even better. The waiter was quite helpful with Brad on deciding on his bistecca and the overall environment felt more local. At the end of our meal we were even given some limoncello free of charge. I would love to go back there sometime! Regardless, Friday was a great start to our weekend either way.
The next day we headed to Sienna. We made our way to the train station, stopped in a bar for some cappucini and cornetti and we were on our way. When you arrive at the train station in Sienna you are at the bottom of the city, you walk into a mall and travel up some excalator for roughly 5-7 minutes. Finally you reach the top of the city and walk out and see the surrounding city and view. Sienna was as beautiful as we had remembered it. Brad and I could even recall how to get around the city. If you have never been to Sienna, I highly recommend this small, quaint and charming city. Walking through the cities you are sourrounded by medieval architecture that now equips the contemporary lifestyle of shops and restaurants. As far as sights, there are two areas to explore in Siena. The first is Piazza del Campo a giant square that descends into Palazzo Publico. Once a year a horse race known as Palio di Siena that takes place in this large square. The other landmark to see the Piazza del Duomo, there you can see the medieval church known as Sienna Cathedral. The last time we visited Sienna, Brad and I simply wandered the city, not knowing much about the city. Out of the corner of my eye I discovered a small shop, in through the window I saw a type of cookie I had never seen before. They almost looked like a biscuit that had been dusted with powdered sugar. I turned to Brad and said, "We need to try one of those cookies!". We later discovered that these cookies are called ricciarelli and they originate from Sienna. I assumed that it would be a hard, dry cookie. Biting into one, I discovered they were a soft, sweet, almond, lemon cookie. I highly recommend you try a ricciarelli if you are ever in Sienna, they are simply delicious. Also, check out the shop called Mercati Ortofrutticoli di Siena, which I found these cookies and other goodies like Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pizza, pasta, etc. Ofcourse, there are plenty of other pasticceria and shops in Siena. Wander around like I did, explore and discover your own treasures! And there is the entire region of Tuscany to explore, the countryside, the vineyards, it really is a beautiful experience to be in this part of Italy.
[gallery type="square" ids="282,283,284,276,278,277"]
[gallery type="square" ids="268,267"]
Later that night, we headed back to Florence and finally had the Chicago Reunion we were looking for. Brad and I, Jared and Rachel, and their friend Janice that is living in Florence finally got together as a group. It was a fun, long night of just hanging out like in the ol' days in Chicago, but in a completely difference scene. Sunday was our last day of our little vacation from Rome. Brad and I kept thinking to ourselves that we missed Rome. Sitting at home eating dinner with our Italian roommates, attending language exchanges and riding our bikes up and down all the Roman hills. A city that we have come to know and understand over the last 6 weeks and it has become our home of sorts.I have to admit, this was Brad's fourth time in Florence and my third time. Yet, we had neglected to visit any art museums in Florence. Luckily, we had all of Sunday, so that morning we headed over to Uffizi Gallery. By the way, I highly recommend reserving entry tickets ahead of time if you are ever planning a trip to this museum. I would have to say it was still worth the hour long wait to see, Botticelli's Birth of Venus. The museum, itself is beautiful, it was almost like a medieval maze making your way through each room. It was a great feeling, to finally see so many works of art that I remember viewing or reading about during my studies as an art student. It was the best way to end our short holiday in Florence.
[gallery type="square" ids="280,279,271,275,270,273"]