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Showing posts from April, 2013

SIENA FOR FOODIES: FRIED ARTICHOKES IN THE CRETE SENESI

Tuscans love to fry. Deep fry, that is. But not just fish and chips. In fact an  Italian proverb says "fritte sono buone anche le scarpe" - even shoes taste good when deep fried. I prefer sage leaves though - picked in our garden and straight into the pan. But the most sublime thing in I can think of is a plate of deep fried artichokes in spring -  best if accompanied by a glass of Italy's Franciacorta sparkling wine (but I will also put up with a dry white wine or simply Champagne).  If you have a car, skip lunch in Siena and drive through the hills of the Crete Senesi to join the crowd at Chiusure - Tuscany's Mecca for artichokes lover.  Arrive early (not after 12 pm), as parking around the small hilltop village becomes a nightmare. In fact I've just seen that the contrada della Giraffa (Siena's neighborhood of the giraffe) will be also there for lunch on Liberation Day on the 25th. Which explains the parking problem. CHIUSURE I

SIENA: CITY OF SAINT CATHERINE

Siena's contrada dell'Oca (neighborhood of the Goose) has given Italy some of its most famous women. Sienese rebel  Gianna Nannini  is the country's prime female rock star, whilst  Saint Catherine - born in the 14th century - is still going strong even today.  The American travel writer Susan Van Allen has written extensively about Italy from a female perspective and -  no surprise - Siena and its beloved Saint are a must do on her Grand Tour for women travelling the boot. Below an account of Saint Catherine's life from the Siena chapter of Susan's "100 Places in Italy Every Woman Must S ee" (I've reviewed her guide book last year over here ). Palazzo Pubblico with Torre del Mangia during golden hour on  Piazza del Campo The evening sky in Siena is a divine wonder to behold. Get a seat in the Piazza del Campo as the sun sets and you’re in for a show. Colors change from blue-pink-golden to a rich navy. Then out pop the stars. Whoever is

THE WEEKEND IN SIENA: JAZZ, FILMS AND HALF-PRICE CHAMPAGNE

Riccardo del Fra with Roy Hargrove Tribute to Chet Baker Siena Jazz always manages to take me by surprise. This week with their tribute to French Jazz that brings double bass player Riccardo del Fra into town. The Italian musician has played and recorded with Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Enrico Pieranunzi and Roberto Gatto, but he is also behind one of my favorite contemporary Jazz records - Soft Talk - which he recorded in 2000 together with French pianist Michel Graillier. He plays in Siena for free. So you better show up early at Circolo La Tuberosa (via Vallepiatta, 10).  FESTIVAL SUONA FRANCESE (Paris - Siena), Friday 19th of April 2013, 9.30 pm

UP TOWARDS HEAVEN: NEW GUIDED VISITS IN SIENA'S CATHEDRAL

The rooftop tours of Siena's Gothic cathedral are an exciting new entry in Tuscany's cultural calendar. Not that the church was falling short of artistic highlights so far with its works by Italy's most famous sculptors, the  amazing  intarsia marble floor  -  which is uncovered only for two months each year - and Pinturicchio's detailed frescoes of the life of Pope Pius II in the Piccolomini library (one of my all time favorites in Siena).  But fact is that thousands of well meaning tourists put a lot of time and effort into visiting churches, chapels and cathedrals every day - and once out the door have already forgotten what they've just looked at. I don't blame them. The sheer amount of architectural wonders on the 'what to see in Tuscany' list is a little intimidating even if you live here. Let alone if you only have a week.  So what to do about it? Visiting Siena's most important church during a Porta del Cielo  (gate to heaven) tour s

JAZZ IN SIENA (and two more classical concerts): APRIL 2013

UN TUBO, a beautiful new bar and night club in the vicinity of piazza del Campo reopens its doors with the music of some fine Italian jazz musicians. On Friday, 12th of April, Florentine jazz and Bossa Nova singer Barbara Casini will present her book of interviews with some of Brazil's most important contemporary musicians.  A special note is in dicated for the concert of the Silvia Bolognesi Trio. The Siena born double bass player started her education at the Siena Jazz Foundation. Silvia Bolognesi  stands for a new generation of female instrumentalists in Italy's world of Jazz (you can find an Italian interview about the topic with her here ). Barbara Casini with pianist Stefano Bollani