Thursday, December 15, 2005

A day in Siena

The drive from Volterra to Siena was scenic as usual with rolling hills, olive groves and little villages along the way.

We got to Siena in just under an hour and managed to get parked reasonably easily, which was lucky, considering the huge number of cars and the lack of spaces. After a short walk through some narrow streets, one of the streets opened out on to the Piazza del Campo and we were faced with a magnificant view of the shell shaped Piazza and the Torre del Mangia, surrounded by beautiful buildings.

Torre del Mangia, Siena

We wandered round the Piazza del Campo, basking in the sunshined and taking photos at every possible angle, then found a great seat at one of the restaurants and ordered a Pizza and a beer with one of the best views of the holiday.

Here's a photo of the view from our seat:

Lunch at Piazza del Campo, Siena

This is definitely a sight that would easily rival any of the places in Florence.

After lunch we decided to burn off the pizza by climbing the 505 steps to the top of the Torre del Mangia. Although the number of steps here was much more than the Cupola in Florence's Duomo, it didn't seem as difficult a climb. The view from the top was superb. The sky was blue and we could see for miles across the city and over the Tuscan countryside.

View from top of Torre Del Mangia, Siena

After the tower we visited the Duomo. It wasn't as impressive as Florence's Duomo and the facade was covered up as it was being renovated, but it was still very impressive.

Duomo, Siena

We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering round the city, looking in shops, taking photos and just soaking up the atmosphere.

I loved Siena and could have easily spent a couple of days here. Perhaps next time!

If you want to stay in Siena you can find Reviews of hotels in Siena here.


We made an effort today and got out of bed before 8am to hit the road and spend a morning in Volterra.

As usual the journey was filled with the contrasts of beautiful Italian countryside and psycho Italian drivers :-)

View of countryside surrounding Volterra

We managed to get to Volterra in one piece within an hour despite stop when a double decker bus and a tourist bus from Germany tried to squeeze past each other on a road that was barely wide enough for one bus. 10 minutes later after lots of reversing, with a big queue of traffic behind us they finally made it through without toppling.

The road to Volterra was steep and winding as expected as it is situated over 1700 feet above sea level up on a Plateau. We managed to get parked a little easier than we had done in San Gimignano and walked up some steps through to the main part of town.

Volterra is a pretty small town and you can easily walk across it in twenty minutes or less, but it is a nice place to stop and spend an hour or two. The town is filled with narrow winding alleyways and tiny little streets. If it wasn't so small it would be easy to get lost here.

We spent an hour or so just wandering about the town and the main square, through lots of little alleyways that often opened out to places giving beautiful vistas of the Tuscan countryside.


Before leaving we stopped at a little Pasteleria for a coffee and a pastry, after which Stuart was shocked that I'd spent 3 Euros 30 on a can of diet coke, then it was back to the car to continue on to Siena.

I'd highly recommend Volterra for a 2 hour stop off during a day trip.

Streets of Volterra

If you'd like to stay longer in Volterra you can read reviews of Volterra Hotels here.

Chilling out at the Villa

For the first time of our holiday we spent two whole days by the villa doing absolutely nothing. Bliss!

We were blessed with two days of beautiful weather - blue skies and sunshine and we spent a couple of days just chilling out and relaxing by the pool.

It was Stuart's 29th Birthday on Tuesday 13th September so I made him dinner - ensalada caprese followed by chicken and mushroom risotta, washed down with a bottle of Tattinger champagne (brought from home). We spent the two days eating, reading, relaxing, drinking Chianti and Italian Beer and having long lies.

Renting a villa is in my opinion one of the best ways to enjoy your time in Italy. Interchanging lazy days by the pool with daytrips to go sightseeing in the nearby towns and villages is an ideal way to spend your time.

When planning a trip to Florence or Tuscany, a useful website regarding villa rentals in tuscany is They have a good selection of villa, farmhouse and apartment rentals throughout Tuscany. They also offer many luxury villas and apartments with pools for rent by the week.