During our time in Florence, Erin and I took a day trip to Siena. Siena is a great medieval/gothic-style town, famous for cuisine, art, and Palio, a horse race held twice a year. It is such an event that the neighborhoods are split up and named after their teams for the races!
Erin and I came to Siena first and foremost to go to Tuscan Wine School (courtesy of Erin’s parents!) Our two-hour food tour included the tasting of various red and white wines paired with various cheeses and chocolates, which our American teacher pointed out, enhances the tastes of the wine.
Next, we were led through the old, winding streets of Siena and down towards an old cheese shop, where we ate three different kinds of cheeses (ranging from very dry to runny), and three different kinds of meats. The cheeses are created at the local shop, and the owner, Gino, produces them all! There is so much precision and care when it comes to producing cheese, it is nothing less than incredibly impressive. Some of the bigger cheese rounds sell for up to 600€. It is actually someone’s job to come and knock on/listen to the cheese to make sure it has not gone bad.
After our fill of cheeses, we were led back up towards a typical Italian cafe, where we took our espresso like champs- no sugar, no cream, all whilst standing at the back counter (because it costs more to sit and have your coffee than stand in Italy!)
We finished our tour sharing a plate with some of the most exquisite desserts I have ever tasted. Unfortunately photos were not allowed inside the shop, but trust me, they were to die for.
One thing our guide spoke about was with the liberation of women working outside the home, along with the development of new technology, in addition to many people pursuing higher education, has resulted in a generation of people who no longer know how to cook/don’t have the time to prepare and create the famous Italian cuisine of cheeses, wines, etc. She continued by saying that people no longer come home for lunch and people do not take as much time at the markets, so therefore the quality of food has decreased. Finally, she explained that the country, in a way, is literally mourning the loss of these key skills, and as a result there are now more young people trying to learn them. When I visited Annecy, my friend’s mom told me the same thing about food in France. Although I see where she is coming from, it’s definitely not fair to blame women wanting to have careers and be educated on the “loss of Italian cuisine.” Perhaps the solution is to equally train both males and females in these skills, so that when two people live together or marry, the tasks can be shared.
I have always wanted to take a wine/food tour, so I am really grateful to have been able to check that off my bucket list.
Duomo di Siena
The Siena Cathedral was one of my favorites in all of Italy. Designed by Giovanni Pisano, the cathedral is a combination of French Gothic, Tuscan Romanesque architecture, and Classical architecture. The interior contains black and white marble stripes– the civic coat of arms of Siena. The dome is like a golden sun, and there are sculptured heads of ancient popes aligning the base of the dome. The mosaic floors contain various scenes, such as the Slaughter of the Innocents. The most impressive part was probably the Piccolomini Library, which houses the frescoes painted by Umbrian Bernardino di Betto. The frescoes tell the story of Siena’s Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who eventually became Pope Pius II.
Have you ever been to Siena or taken a food tour?