Day 2 – Thursday 13th September
Happy Birthday to me! So today was my birthday – and what better way to celebrate, than a day trip to beautiful Siena!
The day started with a lovely birthday breakfast on the hotel terrace, opening presents and cards, before setting off for Siena! The drive took just under an hour, and was stress free until we reached the centre of the city, where it became VERY busy – with cars pulling out left right and centre! We managed to get as close as we could to the centre and found a car park. Thank goodness we had a smart car. There is no chance we would have been able to manoeuvre around this multi-story car park, or fit into one of the tiny spaces with any other car!
We walked into the centre of Siena and headed straight for Piazza del Campo – the famous sloping piazza and the heart of Siena. Home to the Palio di Siena horse race, the square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants – the perfect people watching location!
We found a table, at the front of one of the cafes and spent the next couple of hours taking in our surroundings. This is exactly what I love about Italy. We enjoyed an Italian coffee, played some cards and chatted the morning away. An hour into the morning, we decided to exchange our coffees for an Aperol Spitz (or two) and planned our day.
First thing on our sightseeing list was the Cappella di Piazza and the Torre del Mangia, with fantastic views across the square and overlooking the city! The tower is the third tallest in the whole of Italy and is the focal point of the Piazza. Climbing the 400+ steps up the narrow staircase was definitely an experience in itself (not advised if you’re claustrophobic!) – and the views from the top were just incredible.
After all that hard work, it was time for lunch. We were so in love with the Piazza that we chose a restaurant here in the square and ordered a traditional Spaghetti Carbonara each. Ah. May. Zing. Can I just stay here and eat all the carbs forever please?
We’d had a pretty lazy morning (which was just perfect), so decided to spend the afternoon exploring! Siena is a complete masterpiece, exhibiting incredible architecture and close-knit streets waiting to be explored! We visited the Duomo, demonstrating impressive Romanesque-Gothic architecture, explored the hustle and bustle of the vibrant streets in the Historic Centre and took in as much as the city as possible. It was 100% a case of putting down the map and getting wonderfully lost!
After a couple of hours of exploring, it was time to head back to San Gimignano, where we enjoyed a birthday meal and bottle of the local wine; Vernaccia di San Gimignano! What a perfect day!
Top things to see and do in Siena (when you only have 8 hours!)
- People watch in the Piazza del Campo (eat pasta and enjoy the moment!)
- Climb the Torre del Mangia for incredible views over the city (Open 10am-4pm October to February, 10am-6:15pm March to September; €10 per person)
- Visit the magnificent Duomo and appreciate its stunning architecture (OPA Si Pass – €8=€15 depending on time of year visited)
- Visit the Biblioteca Piccolomini, in which Pinturicchio illustrates ten episodes from the life of Pope Pius II (inside the Duomo, included within the OPA Si Pass)
- Explore the streets cobbled streets of the historic centre