A week in Italy:: part one

View of Piazza del Campo, Siena

At the beginning of this month I flew off to Italy with my family and James to spend a week in Italy. The plan was to spend three nights in Siena, where I used to live, and then James and I would head off to the north whilst the rest of my family would head south to Rome.

The last time I was in Siena was three years ago, for the same reason – Il Palio. Il Palio is an incredible horse race that goes through the central piazza of Siena. The people of Siena spend all year building up to this iconic race that happens twice a year. It was Penny and James’ first time in both Italy and in Siena, so we had plenty to see and do with them.

After arriving pretty late on the first night we headed to the Piazza del Campo for a couple of slices of pizza and a beer to soak in the atmosphere. As a student I spent many an evening sat in the Campo with friends, drinking wine, eating pizza and gelato, and putting the world to rights, so it was nice to be back here with family.

Climbing the Torre del Mangia, Siena

View from Torre del Mangia, Siena

Our first full day in Siena was all about taking people to some of my favourite spots. We headed to the Torre del Mangia, the clock tower in the centre of the piazza, early in the morning to climb the tower before the head and the crowds arrived. Despite getting there early it was still incredible hot! The views from the top of the clock tower are incredible, overlooking the whole city and the countryside nearby.

Duomo in Siena

We then headed up to the Duomo, the city’s cathedral to take a look and cool off in the shade. The cathedral is pretty spectacular, and in my opinion much prettier than the one in Florence! For lunch we headed to a cafe near the the Campo with an old friend, Linda, who still lives in Italy. It was so good to see her and her boyfriend and catch up. We’ve been friends for seven years since we both did our Erasmus year in Siena!

Erasmus year in Siena

Throw back to Linda and I in our Erasmus days!

After a mooch around the shops in the afternoon we got freshened up at the hotel and headed back to the Piazza to watch the final prova (practice horse race) before dinner. I’ll go into more detail about Il Palio in another post if you’d like to know more! Dinner was at one of my favourites which we’ve eaten at many times since I’ve been back to Siena – Nonna Gina.

The food at Nonna Gina is authentic traditional Italian, and while it may not look like much from the outside, if you’re in Siena for a couple of days, it’s worth a visit! We shared a couple of antipasti platters, and then each had a pasta for our main course. Delicious!

antipasti platter at osteria nonna gina, siena

pici alla dado at osteria nonna gina, siena