Having trouble hitting your daily Fitbit step target? Then a holiday in Siena will soon solve that problem! Arriving there late in the afternoon, our first task was trundling our cases down a flight of steps to our hotel sitting at the base of yet more stairs generating an elevated heart rate reading. With no available parking, we decided to return the hire car to Avis. Trouble was they were closing shortly, this was peak hour and the GPS couldn’t quite keep up and Siena’s streets soon resembled a jumbled plate of pasta.
Italian drivers, having been on our tail the entire trip or ripping past at 150+kph, soon saw some amazing Aussie u-turn action which elicited fist-pumping, yelling and other lewd gestures. Narrowly avoiding doing an “Italian Job” ie driving down a narrow flight of stone steps, we made it in time with heart rate reading now extreme!
A STEP IN TIME….
In answer to my query as to whether the hotel room had a view, the manager replied “no madam, you booked a basic room but for an extra Euros 5, I can give you one with an outstanding view”. Ka-ching! He got the money and we got a pretty view of Siena’s domed Duomo where startled Swallows scattered from their perches with each toll of the bell.
From here, it’s all downhill as we descended dozens of steps to Siena’s impressive Piazza del Campo, one of the world’s largest Mediterranean squares. Its olyptical shape has achieved fame as the site of the where hooves clatter off the intricate, chevron brick paving each summer. A uniformity of grand buildings envelop the square dominated by the imposing Public Palace of Siena, once the seat of political power and now home to the Museo Civico and some great art that, for once, doesn’t involve Madonna and child and looking up, I can imagine Renaissance intrigues and plots being hatched behind shuttered windows and darkened corners.
HEART AND SOLE
Tramping up and down the steps of Siena’s narrow streets literally turns into a visual feast with enough shops and delis to challenge the strictest diet. Restaurant specialties include wild boar, hare with pappardelle pasta as well the perennial gelato artisano. Providore store windows are garlanded with sausages while inside, cheeses, liver and local wines including Chianti, Brunello and Montalcino are guaranteed to up the sugar levels. Along Via Pellegrini, Pizza a Volo serves it up big time producing monster pizzas for Euro 2.5 a slice.
Pasta Mia, a modern gourmet cafe, dishes up gourmet lunch plates of three types of pasta and sauce for Euro 6.80 while kerbside corner bars are key people-watching spots to sit and sip an Aperol Spritz. Or you can go the whole hog and tuck into Tuscany with a food tour of local bakeries, gelato producers and fromageries.
Stepping out in Siena, at least you can walk off the calories and feel fitter – as opposed to fatter – while meeting personal exercise goals. Does that make guilt-free gourmet travel a thing?
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Tags: Aperol Spritz, Fitbit, fromageries, gelato, gelato artisano, largest Mediterranean squares, Museo Civico, pasta and sauce, Pasta Mia, Piazza del Campo, Pizza a Volo, pizzas, Public Palace of Siena, Siena, Siena Duomo, tour Siena, Touring Italy, Tuscany, www.italia.it/en, www.terresiena.it/en, www.visittuscany.com, www.visittuscany.com/en