My lovely memories of Siena

Siena from the distance

Siena from the distance

We were in Tuscany three years ago and what a great time it was to spend two glorious weeks of summer in the almost magical Tuscan countryside.

I’ve blogged about this Tuscan holiday some months ago but not about the lovely city of Siena which my husband and I explored one hot summer day (without Francesca and my parents-in-law who opted for the soothing waters of the swimming pool back at our agriturismo apartment). I can fully understand them as a busy and touristic city is no place for a child and the grandparents on an extremely warm day, with the temperature soaring beyond 40 degrees Celsius.

Siena first came into my consciousness as a 9 year-old, not because of Geography lesson but religion because my parents transferred me and my brother and sister to a Catholic school run by the Dominican sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. I am not a very religious person but it was still mystifying to be in a city which I have always known to exist and more so, to pray inside the basilica right in front of relics of St. Catherine’s earthly existence.

My husband and I enjoyed the whole adventure. The drive to Sienna through a beautiful countryside was something straight out of a movie setting turned a.k.a. Reality — inviting sunflower fields, charming hilltop Medieval villages, vineyards and olive orchards, rolling hills turned golden by the ripening wheat fields dotted by sentinel-looking cypress trees.

It was fun to see and experience a bit of Siena. From the Basilica of St. Catherine, we proceeded to have lunch at a restaurant where we had a good vantage point to observe the city. The restaurant’s interior still boasts of those old days’ charm from the dried peppers hanging on the wall together with the ham, dried sausages, garlic, etc.

Lunch was excellent. I opted for beef carpaccio as a starter and risotto for main course. The carpaccio which was well chilled was simply perfect to have on a very warm day. My husband loved his pizza. Our dessert of an almost melt in the mouth chocolate cake was divine.

We headed next to the centre of Siena. I love the narrow streets, the well-preserved architecture, colorful flowers on pots suspended in the air and the lively atmosphere of the city. I wanted to see the inside of the Duomo but decided not to as there was a long queue and the entry tickets were being sold elsewhere, a typical Italian complexity that is baffling for visitors like me.

We checked some interesting shops — galleries featuring Tuscan landscapes, leather shops, ceramic shops and the most interesting was one whose alchemic practices date back to the Renaissance. This shop’s history even goes back to the time of Catherine de Medici whose use of perfumes and scented soaps was an influence she brought to France when she married Henri II. I couldn’t resist the urge to try some of their products and bought some scented lavender soaps and bath salts to share with my mom-in-law who loves these things a lot.

After a few more ins and outs to the shops, it was time to head back to our agriturismo. A dip in the pool was becoming too irresistible before starting the dinner preparation.

Siena is one city that I’d love to visit again in the future, albeit at a much more pleasant temperature than the 42 degrees Celsius that it was.

Sunflower fields and hilltop Medieval villages from afar

Sunflower fields and hilltop Medieval villages from afar

Sunflower visited by a buzzing friend

Sunflower visited by a buzzing friend

Hubby and me on our way to Siena

Hubby and me on our way to Siena

Tuscan countryside

Tuscan countryside

Rolling hillsides turned gold from the ripening wheat grains dotted by sentinel-looking cypress trees

Rolling hillsides turned gold from the ripening wheat grains dotted by sentinel-looking cypress trees

Olive orchards

Olive orchards

Tuscan countryside

Tuscan countryside

The Basilica of St. Catherine of Siena

The Basilica of St. Catherine of Siena

The Duomo

The Duomo

The restaurant where we had a very nice lunch

The restaurant where we had a very nice lunch

I always find this type of display very inviting

I always find this type of display very inviting

Beef carpaccio starter

Beef carpaccio starter

Pumpkin risotto

Pumpkin risotto

Monstrous pizza ordered by the hubby

Monstrous pizza ordered by the hubby

Melts in the mouth chocolate cake

Melts in the mouth chocolate cake

Cappuccino to keep us awake after the very nice lunch

Cappuccino to keep us awake after the very nice lunch

Can't resist getting a little refreshing relief under the 42 degree Celsius heat

Can’t resist getting a little refreshing relief under the 42 degree Celsius heat

Gallery featuring Tuscan countryside sceneries

Gallery featuring Tuscan countryside sceneries

Shop of leather goods

Shop of leather goods

Shop of religious goods

Shop of religious goods

Italian ceramics

Italian ceramics

Italian ceramics

Italian ceramics

Masks

Masks

Travel guides

Travel guides

Perfumes whose formulas date back to the Renaissance era

Perfumes whose formulas date back to the Renaissance era

Couldn't resist some of these perfumed soaps

Couldn’t resist some of these perfumed soaps

These perfumed bath salts smelled divine

These perfumed bath salts smelled divine

Soaps from the days of the Medicis

Soaps from the days of the Medicis

Dried Italian herbs

Dried Italian herbs

One of the many ancient narrow streets

One of the many ancient narrow streets

At the Piazza del Campo where the Palio de Siena is held twice a year

At the Piazza del Campo where the Palio de Siena is held twice a year

Siena and its famous Torre del Mangia

Siena and its famous Torre del Mangia

A street in Siena

A street in Siena

A street in Siena

A street in Siena

The Basilica of St. Catherine from Siena's city centre

The Basilica of St. Catherine from Siena’s city centre

About Malou
I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl with interest in cooking, baking, traveling and photography. Castles and palaces are special favorites so when weather permits for a good walk on weekends, me, hubby and little girl are always out for a bit of adventure.

42 Responses to My lovely memories of Siena

  1. Tom says:

    Thanks! We made it to Assisi (in 2010) to visit Francis and Clare, but not to Siena. You gave a very well-grounded tour … with no hill climbing.

  2. Glorious! Sun!
    All those perfumes, soaps… and that cake!!!

  3. sillyliss says:

    Wow, so beautiful.

    I had a similar experience arriving at a place I had heard about. When it comes to life, it is amazing. For me, it has been following the tracks of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have visited her birthplace as well as several of her childhood homes.

    Mark Twain’s boyhood home in Hannibal, Missouri, was also a neat place to visit — though it has become more of a tourist beacon, so I did not get the same feeling of “wow, she was here, and now I am here” that I get from the places that inspired Laura Ingalls Wilder.

  4. agwink says:

    The photos are so beautiful, I feel as if I’ve been there also. Thank you for the trip and the guided tour. It’s beautiful.

  5. rrabano says:

    Not sure how this came out for you. Sad or happy. But nice pictures and the food. WOW. Didn’t see the wine or beer with the Pizza. Cappuccino! Hmmmm. overall thanks for sharing your trips and thoughts.

  6. restlessjo says:

    So many lovely Italian cities, Malou. I’d love to see more. Great photos,as ever. No daughter- so strange! I might have been tempted by the pool too. :)

  7. scroungelady says:

    I can see why you enjoyed your visit so much. Lovely architecture, delicious looking food, and interesting shops. My favorite is the ceramics. How do you like the soaps you purchased?

  8. Oh I loved Siena – isn’t the Duomo there beautiful? When we first arrived by train we were a little disappointed that the train station was the town center & thought there wouldn’t be much to see. But after a quick taxi ride I fell in love with this place. We ate at a little restaurant along the large piazza where there was a wedding party going on & I thought what a wonderful setting for a wedding (hint to my daughter).

  9. RDoug says:

    I love Sienna. I very much look forward to returning and photographing it again one day.

  10. cmbanerjee says:

    One of the many places I’d like to visit someday, thanks for sharing! Beautiful photos!

  11. Kitty says:

    Ah! The architecture, the scenery, the pumpkin risotto, the soaps! What a treat, Malou, thank you! It looks like a wonderful adventure…

  12. What a great trip! My librarian back in elementary school was Sr. Siena! the picture of the sunflowers was my favorite!

  13. Pingback: My lovely memories of Siena | FutureWorld

  14. livliveslife says:

    I went to Siena on a school trip in 2008, and loved it. Your gorgeous photos brought back so many good memories! Thanks for sharing!

  15. RoSy says:

    I wish I was your camera – LOL

  16. Wonderful trip and images! Thanks for sharing

  17. chrisstov says:

    Wonderful photos and oh what glorious sunflowers.

  18. Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing!

  19. ShimonZ says:

    You have some truly marvelous shots here… especially of the countryside. And it is always a pleasure seeing you and your family enjoying a holiday.

  20. Gorgeous food and views! HAHA! As always :P

  21. bebs1 says:

    I love their torrones in Sienna. Everytime I go to Italy, I make it a point to bring home for gifts or take several home for personal consumption. Beautiful photos.

  22. JennyO says:

    Beautiful photos! I felt like I got a little mini tour! :D

  23. terrietez says:

    Reblogged this on Cats and allsorts and commented:
    Tuscany is a great place for a holiday. I can recommend Siena and Florence, too.

  24. lynnsbooks says:

    I love this post. We went to Siena a few years ago whilst staying in Florence. Your photographs are lovely and have totally captured my memories and given me some lovely flashbacks. The Duomo is absolutely gorgeous inside and the main Square is so attractive – not to mention the little winding streets and old fashioned shops. I love the sunflowers as well – one of my favouries. They make such an impressive display.
    Thanks
    Lynn :D

  25. You seem to find fields of flowers wherever you go! Beautiful photos…

  26. likeitiz says:

    Siena is indeed lovely. You captured some great scenes of it in your post. We visited in late July 2012 and there was a festival.

  27. I enjoyed the trip back to Siena, we were there 13 years ago, your photos awakened a desire to return sometime, but other than during the summer, as well.

  28. I just have to go…immediately! I haven’t been to Tuscany since I was 16. It’s about time, because your pictures bring the memories back. Beautiful pictures! Landscape, sun, food and drink. Thank you for sharing!

  29. Such lovely memories, Malou, as it has been three decades since I, too, visited the beautiful city if Siena. Grazie mille, Signora Malou (and hubby, too!)!!!

  30. Sartenada says:

    Lovely. What a wonderful set of photos. Your post is very inspiring and it invites man to visit there.

  31. Siena from a distance looks so similar to Antalya on the Mediterranean coast that I was pretty much taken aback. A great photo collection you have here. How would it serve you to view the place from a historical perspective?

    Shakti

  32. Loved the sunflower fields and the choc cake made my mouth water. Low fat and calorie, right? My bags home would have been filled with the dried herbs and the soaps (and essential oils if they had those!) Great pics of the narrow streets. Thanks for sharing.

  33. vivutravels says:

    Eye catching pictures!!!!

  34. JDblogging4fun says:

    The food looked delicious; especially that pizza! I liked the sunset photos too.

  35. These are just gorgeous pictures! I would love to run through a sunflower field. :)

  36. I loved Sienna! In fact the entire month in Italy was so wonderful but now I am so very far away . . . in fact I don’t think I could be further away than down here in New Zealand! Thanks for the wonderful reminders.

  37. I just had lunch but that chocolate cake makes me want to ditch office and look for a good ole slice :P

  38. Amber Avery says:

    Oooh, for a person who loves to travel, this is a treasure. I would LOVE to visit Italy and now thanks to your blog i have some cool pointers/ideas.

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