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Showing posts from October, 2012

URBAN TREKKING IN SIENA

One thing that really shocked me when moving to Italy, is that you can't get by without owning a car. Even more if you end up in the Tuscan countryside. It must be a bit like living in the US. Public transport is not very efficient and walking is seen as something that you try to avoid if you can.  So watching Siena's Urban Trekking initiative grow from year to year really fills me with joy. In its ninth year the trekking movement has spread from Siena to 33 Italian cities.  The guided walking only visits to some of Italy's most beautiful towns are organized twice a year in April and October. The trekking itineraries are cultural at heart and much more than just another tourist trail.  Siena beyond the obvious: time to explore some backroads Lesser known corners of Siena and the participating cities are discovered and stories are told that many a local may never have heard of. Last but not least, the concept of walking (it's fun, it's healthy, it's

NIGHT TIME VISIT TO THE CATHEDRAL'S MARBLE FLOOR

Part of Siena's marble intarsia floor by Matteo di Giovanni Soon most of the cathedral's marble floor in Siena  will be covered up again to protect it from wear and tear. But before spending ten months wrapped up, the floor is going to shine in all its splendor for a night time visit (called Ad Sapientiam) in the context of the  Notturni dell'Opera  - series.  Siena Cathedral, Saturday, 20th October 2012 from 9pm till midnight.  More info in regard to tickets and tour guide reservation can be found on  the OPA museum website:  OPERA DUOMO SIENA

BEST RESTAURANTS IN SIENA: LA GROTTA DI SANTA CATERINA - Girogustando 2012

Obviously as a Brunello wine lover, I have to write a few lines about Siena's La Grotta di Santa Caterina. The restaurant's well versed chef is called 'Bagoga', which is the Sienese's nickname for anybody moving to Siena from Montalcino, the home of the famous Brunello wines . But unlike Gianni Brunelli  (the Montalcino born founder of Siena's restaurant Le Logge), Pierino Fagnani didn't come to Siena to open a restaurant. He tried his luck with the Palio. No not in the medieval parade but on the back of a horse.  It seems it didn't take long though, before he realized that he'd be better off frying onions than circling piazza del Campo as a jockey in a rather mad race. Which is how he came to open his own restaurant. 

SIENA, THE CRISIS OF THE WORLD'S OLDEST BANK AND ITS CITY

Piazza Salimbeni in Siena, HQ of the world's oldest bank The Power of We is the topic of this year's  Blog Action Day . A thought provoking theme for a city like Siena, where anything social, cultural or environmental doesn't depend on people power, but on the power of a bank.  Monte dei Paschi di Siena has been banking since 1472. It goes without saying, a money institute with that kind of pedigree, would have played a major  role in any city, whether in Italy or not. Nevertheless I still keep being amazed about the amount of power the world's oldest bank executes over Siena and great parts of Tuscany.  Last year a colleague and I started work on a  post-cancer retreat in Southern Tuscany . The issue of funding came up quite early. Without financial support a lot of cancer survivors wouldn't be able to participate. Who could help?  " Il Monte !" ,  was the answer I got from people all around Tuscany. "Just ask Il Monte!"   For decades

BEST RESTAURANTS IN SIENA: CASATO DI SOTTO, Girogustando 2012

Travelers who have read my Siena guide on Unanchor know that I'm a huge fan of restaurant Casato di Sotto. Owned by Brunello winemaker Andrea Cortonesi (from Montalcino's Uccelliera winery), the restaurant has a wonderful wine cellar and very knowledgeable and friendly staff. And then there is talented chef Cornelius, who cooks Tuscany's traditional dishes, no, not the way my Tuscan native or my mother-in-law do. But always with an element of surprise in them (otherwise I may as well eat at home).  The choice is yours. Wine cellar at restaurant Casato di Sotto in Siena 

SIENA FOR KIDS: STORYTELLING AT THE LIBRARY

If you are an expat living near Siena, you may already have checked out the city's beautiful library. If you're also a parent with kids, you may want to go back. In 2006 Siena's library opened a colorful and lovingly furnished children's section that may turn the most football crazy 7-year-old into a bookworm.  But that's not all. Every Saturday in autumn and winter Siena's library organizes storytelling sessions for kids (in Italian only). Newly acquired books are presented to children of all age and laboratories are hold to introduce the kids to the works of Sienese master Duccio (but also Giotto and MirĂ²). Two age groups exist: 4-6 and 7-10 years old. Check the   library's timetable for the different events (there are even a few ones for toddlers). 

STARGAZING IN SIENA, Saturday October, 6 2012

Tuscany's sky! That's one of things friends and family keep being amazed with when they holiday with us. And it's not just about romantic sunrises and stunning sunsets. It's about the stars (shooting or not), the moon, and oh look, is that the milky way?!  Just another moon rise in Southern Tuscany