ACROSS THE BIG BLUE SEA in SIENA



Five years ago I interviewed American Newsweek journalist and NYT bestselling author Nina Burleigh about her work after her talk at the Siena Art Institute. Little did I know then that I'd write a book myself one day (and that Nina Burleigh would endorse it with the kindest and most thoughtful words).

I'm looking forward to discuss 'Across the Big Blue Sea' and migration (my own and the one of the people I worked with at our Tuscan refugee home) at the beautiful headquarters of the Siena Art Institute (which is based in the Tartuca neighbourhood, one of my favorite contrade in Siena).

ACROSS THE BIG BLUE SEA book presentation 
Siena Art Institue - May 8, 2018, 6 pm
via T. Pendola 37


SIENA's THERMAL SPRINGS: BUDDHA SPA BY CLARINS

Outdoor pool with artificial waterfall
Buddha Spa's Asian inspired outdoor pool


Southern Tuscany has a wide selection of natural hot springs (find my favourites ones here), but from time to time a spa day is a nice change from the usual wilderness dip.  

Near Siena, Buddha Spa by Clarins is the place to go. Named after an Asian sage, the thermal waters used to be visited by a local one too: Catherine of Siena, Italy's patron saint, who took her baths here in the Middle Ages. Things have changed quite a bit since then and nowadays guests have the choice between a spacious outdoor pool set in front of a waterfall, an indoor pool with two jacuzzis, Turkish bath and sauna. 

Set in a former farm building the spa isn't huge, but that's part of its charm. After all, a day of relaxation is much more enjoyable with less of a crowd. 

Buddha Spa is part of the Bagnaia Hilton hotel and uses Clarins products exclusively. Most resort guests use the spa to cure their sore muscles after getting their swing wrong on the nearby golf court (a challenging 18-holes designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr).


Entrance hall Buddha Spa near Siena


BUDDHA SPA

The friendly Buddha spa team provides everything from beauty treatments to massages. Healthy smoothies and a light lunch (with or without a bottle of prosecco!) are served in the relaxation room overlooking the outdoor pool. 

Day-spa from 25€ (discount available for regular visitors). You don't have to stay at the Hilton to use the spa, but best call call telephone: +39 0577 8187698 or email in advance to book a spot.  

The spa can also be rented for private occasions from 8pm to midnight (cost for a group of 6 people 500€).

Ambrogio Lorenzetti's frescoes and paintings



From toddlers to octogenarians, when in Siena I schlepp everybody to see Ambrogio Lorenzetti's 'Buon Governo'. The long title of the painting is 'The Allegory of Good and Bad Government in the City and the Countryside' and it is exactly that - namely an accurate depiction of daily life in medieval Siena. The detailed and elegant fresco cycle is a rarity not just in regard to Lorenzetti's style and technique, but mainly due to its subject matter. In the 14th century, paintings and frescoes focus on stories and characters from the old and new testament and not on the day-to-day tasks of builders and farmers. 


Medieval Siena depicted on the fresco by Ambrogio Lorenzetti
Medieval Siena depicted on one of the walls of Ambrogio Lorenzetti's fresco cycle in the Palazzo Pubblico (©Wikipedia)

And this is exactly why it's so much fun to spend some time in front of the fresco cycle in the civic museum in Siena's Palazzo Pubblico. Whether its kids - or meat lovers - looking for the famous Cinta Senese pig or my Tuscan native lecturing our visitors about the scaffolding used by builders in the Late Middle Ages, it's hard to find anybody who won't enjoy Ambrogio's medieval 'comic strip'. 









To honor the master of the Buon Governo, the Santa Maria della Scala museum has organized a show that brings together Ambrogio Lorenzetti's masterpieces. Most of them are scattered all over the world and on loan from places like London's National Gallery. The subjects of these paintings are more traditional in nature and hence depicting religious scenes - and not mundane medieval builders! - but once you've fallen in love with the Buon Governo you'll like Lorenzetti's Maestà too.  


SANTA MARIA DELLA SCALA - Ambrogio Lorenzetti until April 8, 2018

Full price: € 9.00 
Teenagers from 12 - 18: € 7.00 (children under 12 are free)

Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (no admission after 4.30)

Friday: 10.00 am to 7.00 pm (no admission after 6.30 pm)
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 am to 8.00 pm (no admission after 7.30 pm)


DANCE FESTIVAL

Siena is a fabulous place to visit in winter when culturally minded travelers will get the city's museums all to themselves.

But the same travelers may also note that Siena's cultural calendar isn't much to boast about during the darker months of the year. Hence, an international dance festival taking place in the middle of winter in the beautiful Teatro dei Rinnovati is more than a welcome surprise! 



MOVE OFF 2018 - January 31 to February 2

  • January 31: "It's between us"- Just Us Dance Theater (UK) and  "di angeli, di dei, di uomini"- Freies Tanz Ensemble (Germany). 
  • February 1: "Between"- MOMURO MOVEMENT LAB (Corea) and "Reflect"- Albanian Dancetheater Company (Albania). 
  • February 2: "DIS-CRIMINE"- MOTUS (Italia). 
Teatro Comunale dei Rinnovati, piazza del Campo, palazzo Pubblico: 9.15pm.  
Tickets 8 € (reduced 5€). The theater's ticket booth opens at 6pm.
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