April 5, 2010 – Siena, Italy
We arrived at Fiumucino airport in Rome on time and despite a lengthy line at passport control and no ATMs working in the airport (today was an Easter holiday, but donâ€™t ask me why the ATMs wouldnâ€™t work), we managed to get some Euros and our rental car and hit the road for Siena. If youâ€™ve never been to Italy, like my friend traveling with me for this leg of the trip, the drive up the A1 through Lazio, then Umbria, and finally into Tuscany reveals scene after scene of gorgeous green rural fields topped by semi-crumbling walled hilltowns in orange and cream hues.When I get to Siena I always head to one spot first – the small pizzeria on the far right edge of the Piazza del Campo. You know how you form food memories? For me, the thin crusted and fresh tasting pizza in Siena is one of those foods. Simple, fresh ingredients with a thin crust that’s just the right amoung crunchy and chewy.Accompanied by an insalata mista and a glass of the house Chianti (and followed by espresso and biscotti for my friend) we were satied enough to wander through the town (in the really cold rain I might add) for about an hour, catching a glimpes of the Duoma amidst the holiday crowds, before giving in to an inevitable nap.I was delighted to find the clouds had dissipated after my nap in time for a gorgeous sunset over the Tuscan hills. In Siena I always stay at Palazzo Ravizza – it’s on the edge of town near the Porta San Marco which means one can look out the back of the hotel over the rolling hills of Tuscany, but exit the front of the hotel for a 5 minute walk right into the Piazza Del Campo.We made our way to that piazza for an glass of Prosecco before heading to Osteria Boccon del Prete for dinner. First up, this incredibly creamy grilled polenta topped with Tuscan sausage and swimming on a bed of Parmigiano cream sauce.The pasta of the region is a thick long strand called i pici, and it was dressed with a black kale, bread crumb and pecorino sauce that melted in your mouth.I usually order multiple courses when I eat in Italy – I can’t resist the food and the proprietor’s seem to like you better when you do. So I followed my pasta with a lovely sea bass baked in parchment paper with fresh vegetables – carrots, fennel, and herbs. Delicate, fresh, savory and a perfect secondo for my first evening in Italy.
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