Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Monday (Siena and Voltere)...

Awoke to a white noise of street sounds on the old cobbled streets below our room: Vespas and small trucks transporting locals and their delieveries; pedestrians in search of capuccini; a rollie bag coming or going; a swarm of swallows feasting above.

Off into the Tuscan hills today. First stop was hilly Volterra...famous for its alabaster. Parking was scarce (but free), so we ended up at a dusty lot down the hill a bit. Turns out our lot was near an old town fountain and one of the old city gates. Steep stairway to start our visit. 80 degree temps and sun. A rooster was crowing along the city wall.

In spite of it's must-see status, Volterra was a bit on the unimpressive side...but we made the most of it. The ancient Roman theatre and an ancient Etruscan site were the towns crown jewels. The imposing fortress was so...imposing...it was made into a prison...so it is off limits including signs to not photograph it! We did anyway. Its a fortress. A Palazzo, a variety of churches, and alabaster shops rounded out the visit. Lunch was pizza on a breezy terrace looking out over Tuscany below.

Drove to Impruneta via San Gimignano...famous for its tower-filled skyline. We had been in SG before with Cheryl and Curt, so we didn't stop on this visit, but the vista as we passed around the town. Wound our way back to Impruneta to find the elusive terra cotta products the town is known. Still nothing open in the sleepy city center, but we found success on the way out of town. An artisan terra cotta maker with an enormous array. Found a terra cotta lion head we liked.

Returned to Siena for dinner. Discovered that on Monday night...lots closed. Tried to eat at Osteria Nonna Gina (thanks for the recommendation, Sarah)...but it was closed :( Tried another favorite...also closed. Took a chance at an outdoor spot on the Piazza del Mercato: Cafe Finistra. Jeff had dishes he raved about (ravioli al ragu, chicken with rosemary, and Tuscan beans 'faigoli bianche'). Unfortunately, I had to eat lite due to the onset of something icky. Either food poinoning or a 24-hour virus. A cold shower followed by restless sleep. I will live :)

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