Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visiting Walled Cities, pt. 2

On our van tour, we stopped for lunch at Monteriggioni, a tiny walled city that acted as a line of defense for Sienna against incursions from Florence. The pappardelle with wild boar sauce was delicious.

Although we entered in the rain, by the end of lunch the sun had reappeared.

We continued on to Sienna, where we hiked to the Duomo and had our first of many church viewings.

Then we visited the Piazza del Campo, site of twice yearly bareback horse races.

I watched Quantum of Solace on the plane home, and recognized the plaza in the opening scene. The piazza is enormous. We were freezing, so we crossed to a cafe in the sun. I ordered hot chocolate. Not what we Americans expect, it was thick, more like thin pudding, and not too sweet (fixable by adding the accompanying sugar packet, if desired). It was warm, though, which was just the ticket.

We peered in lots of shop windows on our way back to the van, enjoying the displays of local goods, such as meat, olive oil and pasta.

The local delicacy is a richly spiced fruit and nut cake. We tried two different kinds. It was deemed too spicy by some, loaded as it was with ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and orange.

Finally, we stopped for dinner after dark in Cartona, in the walled section high on the hill. Wandering the streets in the cold led to checking out the cashmere again (several of us had already succumbed to scarves in Sienna). We also wandered through a wonderful antique shop, filled with gorgeous Venetian glass and my favorite, a very old microscope in its wooden case.

I need to return to Tuscany in warmer days and spend hours browsing through all these delightful towns. A one day tour was just far too quick.