We took the train to Siena and walked to our apartment from the train station – there is a series of escalators that makes it pretty effortless. (Assisi, take note!) While not flat, Siena is nowhere near as hilly as Assisi. But there was no risk of our leg muscles atrophying – it was 91 steps up to our fourth-floor apartment (and no elevator). But it was worth it – the view of Siena was spectacular! We arrived in just in time to see a beautiful sunset, then we went out to get takeout for dinner. We ending up buying ingredients for a simple pasta dinner, which I made.
On our first full day in Siena, we decided to maximize our time outdoors since rain was predicted for days two and three. I liked Siena a lot; it looks worn and lived in, and the colors are warm and weathered. It’s full of history and charm. After strolling around the town, we asked the tourist office for the best place to walk in a more rural or woodsy environment. They suggested the Via Francigena, which is a pilgrimage route from France to Rome that goes through Siena. Unfortunately, outside Siena it involved walking on narrow roads with no sidewalks and no shoulders. And not much in the way of views due to high stone walls and hedges along the road. The vegetation did occasionally break into bucolic vistas, but not very often. After maybe two miles, I said to my husband, “I’d rather be having a nice lunch outside, than continuing along this road.” He agreed, and we turned around.
After a delicious pasta lunch in il Campo, my husband went back to do laundry (he does more than nap!) while I visited the Duomo. The inside was a little over-done, but mostly I loved it, especially the black and white striped columns.
The weather forecast was correct, and the next day it rained all day. Fortunately. it was just light rain and drizzle, though it was a lot cooler – only 48 degrees. We took the bus to San Gimignano, which was less than an hour away. Although it wasn’t the best weather, the rain made everything glisten and it kept the crowds away. We had lunch at a restaurant with an expansive view of the surrounding hills and tried to pretend the skies were blue. It was warm and dry inside and the food was delicious; it’s hard to say which we appreciated the most.
The following day, we awoke to massive fog. After it cleared, we took a walk around Siena then hopped on a bus to Monteriggioni, a tiny walled hill town less than a half hour away. The skies were overcast, but it was not raining and it was back up to 60 degrees.
The bus left us off in a traffic circle below the town. We climbed up through a farm and vineyard to reach a gate in the wall surrounding the town. The weather continued to clear, and the views were beautiful. Monteriggioni is a cute stone village surrounded by a wall with several towers. Most things were closed, including the town walls that we had hoped to walk on, but we were happy it was clear and dry.
We got back down to the bus stop a half hour early, and it started to sprinkle. Then about five minutes before our bus was due, the clouds let loose and it poured. Fortunately, we had on waterproof jackets with hoods, but our pants and shoes got soaked. And wouldn’t you know it, the bus was five minutes late, prolonging our drenching.
A few minutes after we got on the bus, the sun came out of nowhere and the sky turned blue. We came back to maybe the most stunning sunset I have ever seen – vivid dark pink clouds and deep slate blue skies. It was amazing! We ended the day at a tiny restaurant where we had delicious pasta and wine.