Posts Tagged With: Siena

Tuscany, Italy

Everyone wants to go to Tuscany, Italy. It is home to the greatest Italian wines, great food and majestic cities. Great cities like Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Cortona and Montepulciano are located here. The road system is a good one with Italy’s main Autostrada, the A1, cutting through its center. The A1 can take you out of Tuscany north to Milan or south to Rome and Naples.

A drive along the A1 reveals hill-top cities everywhere. I just want to exit the highway and find my way up to a new small city on a hill-top. Come walk with us through some of Tuscany’s major cities and some fun ones. What ever your plans  are: wine, food, old cities, museums, architecture or sheer beauty, it can be found here.

Click on the YouTube link below to visit Tuscany and some of its cities …

– George

Categories: BLOG, Chianti, Cortona, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Mountains, Museums, Regions of Italy, Romance, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, VLOG, Walking, Wine, YouTube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Siena, Italy

Siena is a medium size town in the Tuscan region. It has a great piazza in the center and several beautiful churches. The piazza is where Italians and tourists meet to sit and talk or have a gelato. There are restaurants and bars around the edge of this piazza. It is a large piazza.

On July 2 and August 16 the famous horse race is run (il Palio), There are 13 Contrade or city wards that compete but only 10 of the 13 get to race. Ten horses and ten men race bareback around the piazza’s edge three times. The winner holds the honor for a year. The edge of the piazza is transformed into a dirt horse track. The center has areas for people of each Contrade to stand and watch as horses race around them.


– George

Categories: Bars, BLOG, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Ristorante, Romance, Shopping, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany, VLOG, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Tuscany & Umbria Fun

In 2015 we took a week-long trip through some interesting cities of Tuscany and Umbria. This is a hilly area of Italy and the cities are hill towns with narrow streets and lots of stairs. It is Italy and the friendliness of the people and quality of the food and wine comes through.

The video below is an introduction to my Italian city videos.

 

Our trip was several weeks long but the first week was in Tuscany/Umbria and the rest was at our home in southern Campania. We flew into the Rome airport, Fiumicino, and rented a car.  Our itinerary was:

  1. Perugia – Chocolates – See are YouTube Video below
  2. Assisi – Home of Saint Francis – See are YouTube Video below
  3. Cortona – Home of Under the Tuscan Sun – See are YouTube Video below
  4. Montepulciano – The famous wine city – See are YouTube Video below
  5. Siena – Home of the famous Horse Race Il Palio – YouTube video coming soon
  6. San Gimignano – My favorite city anywhere – YouTube video coming soon
  7. Florence – Home of Italian art – See are YouTube Video below

There are so many more cities in this area worth seeing but we were limited to a week and wanted to spend time in Florence.

Perugia

This is home to the famous Italian chocolate Perugina. It is owned by Nestle now but in Italy it is made the original way with not as much sugar. The American version is sold with much more sugar. This small town has an old city center with very narrow streets that barely fit a car. See the video below for how narrow these streets actually are. As in most Italian towns, life takes place outside. Piazzas are places to sit at a bar or restaurant outside and enjoy and observe life around you.

Assisi

Assisi is a small hill town in Umbria that was home to Saint Francis and the Franciscan Monks. It is above all else an Italian city. The food and wine are great. Eating is done outside in piazzas and narrow streets. In our video we caught an Italian wedding as we were seated outside at a restaurant. You never know what will happen next but it will be fun and interesting.

Cortona

OK, we all know Cortona from the book and movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes made this small town popular to tourists from all over the world. The city is high on a hill in Tuscany overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Frances Mayes has her real home here as well as Bramasole, the home used in the movie. Walk with us through this wonderful city in our YouTube video.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano is a famous Italian red wine city (by the same name). Here you can walk a wonderful hill-top city and drink this and other great Tuscan wines. We stayed at a great hotel outside the city called Borgo San Pietro Hotel Cortona. You can see this city and the hotel in the YouTube video.

Siena

This video will be available on YouTube on Monday January 30th. This is a larger city with a great old center that has a huge piazza that is used twice a year (on July 2 and August 16)  run a famous Italian horse race, il palio. People crowd into the center of the piazza and horses race around them. Mud flies and everyone has a fun time. Outside race times the piazza is a place to meet friends and family and sit and relax in the sun. The border of this piazza is loaded with bars and restaurants. The food is good but they are very touristy which means high prices.

San Gimignano

This video will be available on YouTube on a Monday two weeks after the above Siena video. San Gimignano is by far my favorite city anywhere. It is a walled hill city with two main gates. It has been preserved in time from its medieval beginnings. You will notice The famous town homes that help protect families from invaders. In medieval times there were 72 of these homes measuring as tall as 70 meters (230 feet). Today there are only 14 surviving towers. Tourists have found this city and with tourists came tourists stores like Gucci but it is a great town to walk. Get off the main two streets and see the real town.

Florence

Florence was the center of the renaissance and brought art, style, architecture and culture to medieval Italy. Books have been written about Florence. It is a very large city and one of Italy’s main cities. You come here for food, wine, views and art. In our YouTube video we walk around Florence and show you great museums like the Uffizi. Florence has something for everyone. Spend some time here and get to know the city and the people.

Enjoy your travels and enjoy your life…

– George

Categories: Architecture, Assisi, Bars, Cortona, Duomo, Eating, Eating Italian, Enoteca, Europe, Florence, Food, Gelato, General Travel, Hotels, Il Palio, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Lakes of Italy, Montepulciano, Mountain Towns, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Ristorante, Romance, Saint Francis, Saint Peter's Basilica, San Gimignano, Siena, Towns, Traveling without a tour, Tuscany, Uffizi, Umbria, Under the Tuscan Sun, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

San Gimignano Pictorial

San Gimignano is our favorite town in the world. It is old and untouched by modern times until very recently. It used to be a major stop on the trade routes to Florence until Florence changed the routes and basically put this small town out of business. It is in the region of Tuscany and Province of Siena. Its population is just under 8,000 people.

This is a walled medieval town that restricts traffic inside the walls to local residents only. There are many parking areas outside the walls and you walk in. The city is not that big and easily walkable. The architecture is beautiful.

During the medieval period there were 72 tall slender towers. This is one of the towns most distinguishing features. They represented wealth. The taller the tower the more your wealth. The tallest was 230 feet tall. Today there are only 14 towers left and preserved.

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Streets of San Gimignano

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Old small church in back of town

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4 of the towers

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Small street

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Narrow street

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A tower

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Main street in town with many tourists

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One of the gates through the Medieval Wall

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Main piazza with water well

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Main church in center of town

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Having a prosecco overlooking the wall

San Gimignano is a very romantic and ancient city. Don’t miss this city. It is just off the autostrada from Siena to Florence. Spend a day walking this city and being back in time.

You will see old towers and homes with the entrance on the second floor. In medieval times they would lower a letter to let people in and out and raise it at night to prevent invaders from getting in. Time runs much slower here so stop, take a breath and enjoy your life.

When George was first here in 1980 it was unknown to tourists. There were few tourist shops and no-one spoke English. The streets were empty. Today tour busses line up outside the walls and there are many shops along the main street. Most tourist never wonder beyond the main street and the piazza. Wonder down the side streets and see the real city. There is a restaurant with outdoor seating up on the wall. This is a city to wonder through and escape the tourist crowds.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Europe, Florence, Italy, Parking Garage, San Gimignano, Siena, Small Towns, Tuscany | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Siena Pictorial

Siena is a good size city in the region of Tuscany, provide of Siena.  Ithaca a population of 52,700 people. Siena has a very large piazza in the center of town that has a horse race twice a year called the Palio.

palio

Siena is near to many Tuscan and Umbrian mountain towns, Sah Gimignano and Florence. The main Chianti wine area is nearby as well.

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The piazza

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Small narrow streets

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Stairs up from Baptistery to Duomo

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Inside Duomo

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Duomo in its full glory

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Always time for gelato

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Beautiful streets

Siena is worth a stop for a day or two. Get out and walk the city and see its sites. Soccer fans will find a large soccer stadium here. Siena is near the autostrada and is easily reachable by car from Florence or Rome.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Gelato, General Travel, Il Palio, Italy, Siena, Tuscany, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Siena Il Palio

Siena is a larger town than the ones we have been posting on. It is famous for its Palio race. The center piazza (Palio) is divided into triangles for each competing contrade (area of the city). Ten of the 17 contrade race in a horse race called il Palio. They bring in tons of dirt around the top of the piazza for the race twice a year. The race lasts only 90 seconds but the celebrations go on. We were not there for the Palio (July 2 and August 16). The piazza normally is a place for residents and tourists to sit and sun bathe or eat a gelato or just talk with friends.

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Even though Siena is large it has the normal small streets. There are some stairs but not that many.

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The Duomo in Siena is nicer inside than the one in Florence. Outside they look similar (white & black marble). They designed it to be much larger than the one in Florence. It was to include the current duomo, the building next door and the piazza in-between. Funds ran out and it remained its current size. Tickets must be bought next to duomo to enter it.

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Siena has great neighborhood restaurants, bars and sights. Stroll it slowly and enjoy what you see and experience.

Monday we will be going to my favorite small city in the world, San Gimignano.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Bars, Cafè, Europe, Gelato, Il Palio, Italy, Siena, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Perugia, Italy

Perugia is a special city. It is home to Perugina chocolates. They are best known for their Bacci (Kiss) chocolate. The chocolate factory (with tours and tastings) is just outside the city. The city itself is medieval. What a charming place to stroll. Imagine walking on the same small walkways as people did during the medieval period. There are old squares, churches, Castles and fortresses.

Perugia

This is a great town to spend a night or two and go back in time. It is a very romantic place to spend some time. Imagine peaceful walks on old narrow streets, eating in a small trattoria, having some Perugina chocolates, sipping some local wine. Eat a Perugina back (kiss) then kiss someone special. Are you ready to go?

Perugia is near Assisi and Cortonia (where Under the Tuscan Sun took place and the real Frances Mayes home is). It is also not a long drive from Siena or Florence.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Cortona, Florence, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Perugia, Perugina Chocolate, Romance, Siena, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tuscany

Tuscany, Italy is a beautiful and romantic place. No visit here would be complete without a stop in Firenze (Florence). Florence was the capital of the renaissance movement. It has great architecture and museums. The Statue of David by Michelangelo is magnificent. It is located in the museum at the Accademia Gallery. In this museum there are other statues that were mistakes in the creation of David. They are also very beautiful. The Statue of David was replicated many times. There is a copy in the main Piazza near the Ponte Vecchio (old Bridge). The Uffizi and the many Churches and museums are worth a stop. Buy a good guide-book and tour this wonderful city.

I enjoy other places in Tuscany as well:

  1. San Gimignano – This medieval walled mountain town is my favorite place. It was a great secret but over the last 10-15 years the tour buses have found it. You must park outside the city walls and walk in. There are two main entrances to the city (one in the north and one in the south). Don’t be afraid to wonder off the two main streets. The small side streets are romantic and provide a feel of the original life here.
  2. Siena – A beautiful old city that is easy to get to off the Autostrada. The Palio is a special event in Siena. It is the racing of the horses around Piazza del Campo. The duomo is magnificent as well. Be romantic and walk the small streets of Siena.
  3. Cortona – This small beautiful city was made famous by Frances Mayes book, “Under the Tuscan Sun” and the movie that followed. Cortona is a small city with wonderful hills and views all around. Get out and walk! You can see the house used in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun” but it is difficult to find. Ask the tourist office in Cortona.
  4. Perugia – OK Perugia is near and dear to my heart and my sweet tooth. This is Italy’s chocolate city! It is where Perugina chocolates (Bacci) are made. You can tour the plant and taste chocolates. The Perugina factory is a short drive outside of Perugia. The city is divided into two sections. One up on a hill and other down at the base of the hill. There are escalators to transport you up and down. The main square is old and worth a visit.
  5. Assisi – This city is the home and burial grounds for Saint Frances. His church is really two cathedrals one on top of the other. It is massive and worth a visit. The town is old and has many interesting sites. Park and take a walking tour (like the one in the link above). Wikitravel has walking guides and things to see.
  6. Montepulciano – This is where Italy’s best and most expensive wine (Brunello) comes from. Many consider this city to be one of Tuscany’s most attractive cities. It is built up on a mountain with views of the area around it.

This general area of Tuscany is also home to Italy’s best Chianti wines. Look for bottles and wineries displaying the black cock. It is a symbol of the best made wines.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Chocolate, Europe, Italy, Mountain Towns, Parking Garage, Small Towns, Tuscany, Umbria, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last BLOG in series on Perugia Chocolate

English: View on Perugia, Italy and the Church...

English: View on Perugia, Italy and the Church of San Spirito (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kace has a BLOG and wonderful pictures of Perugia, Italy and its wonderful chocolate. This is a place not to be missed. It is in Umbria and is an easy drive and very scenic from Orvieto, Florence, Siena or Rome. If you hate chocolate this is not a city for you but for everyone else go and enjoy.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Chocolate, Cooking, Eating Italian, Europe, Italy, Perugia, Umbria | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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