Chianti Day 4
Trip Start Apr 30, 2012
30Trip End May 29, 2012
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The overcast and cold weather has continued, but the morning forecast calls for sun in the late afternoon and a beautiful tomorrow. We took a few hours in the morning to catch up with email and phone messages from back home. Unfortunately we can't simply ignore everything for a whole month. Fortunately, there are no catastrophes back home!
Late morning we set out for Siena. This is one of the biggest towns/cities in Tuscany and is quite close by to our location. Siena has been the big center for this area for centuries and there used to be a major rivalry between Florence and Siena. The city center is a mix of beautiful old medieval neighborhoods, a grand cathedral, and a very famous piazza, which is considered to be the most beautiful one in all of Tuscany. We agree!
After a difficult time with parking, we headed for the piazza. It is a semi-circle shape with sloping sides, which makes it ideal for loafing around. Siena was quite busy and had the most tourists we have seen since Cinque Terre. We took some time to soak in the piazza and watched a new bride and groom make their debut from the old city hall. The wedding guests were blowing bubbles instead of throwing birdseed and they eagerly encouraged Kaela to join in.
After the piazza we wandered up towards the cathedral. There is a lot to see here but at this point in the trip we have almost filled our quota of churches and museums. So we bought entrance to the Cathedral Museum and the Cathedral itself. The museum is nice, but the big draw is the old wall you can climb up that gives you a panoramic view of Siena. It was a very steep and narrow winding staircase, but we made it up fine and enjoyed a spectacular view. Siena is on a hilltop and is quite hilly, so it’s a beautiful city to see from up high. Then we visited the Cathedral, which is one of the most beautiful churches we have seen on the inside. It has a beautiful black and white striped marble pattern throughout. There are also some side rooms and chapels that are striking.
Although we had just scratched the surface of Siena, it was enough and we headed home for a nap before our evening activities.
Castello di Brolio
We had booked a sunset tour of Castello di Brolio followed by a tasting menu dinner at the restaurant on the estate. There is too much history to speak of so I will simply mention that Baron Bettino Ricasoli (former owner of the castle) created the original formula for Chianti Classico in 1872. He also helped Italy begin producing wines that could compete with French wines. So this castle has been at the center of wine producing in Chianti for over a century. It’s a beautiful castle up on a hill surrounded by vineyards.
Following the tour we tried some of the wines at the wine shop and then went to the Osteria for dinner. The fixed menu included an anti pasta, fresh pasta with porcini mushrooms, veal tenderloin, dessert, and three different wines from the property. We decided to eat with Peter and Tiffany from the sunset tour and enjoyed this couple from Manhattan. Dinner was really great but far more than any of us could eat. We also enjoyed the wines and it will be fun to buy Brolio wines back in the states.