While Siena is a great medieval city to sightsee as it was once Florence's rival and has great churches and piazzas, we did none of that today. I have been to Siena once before, though I don't remember it that well beause I was 13 at the time. Today we strictly shopped and dined. So much for sightseeing.
However, we were unable to do either until we found parking. It took us over 45 minutes to find parking but once we did, we realized we had discovered the best parking place in the entire city. We parked at a pay lot for San Franchesco which was dauntingly downhill from the main part of the city. Fortunately, as we started walking up the hills to the market, we discovered a covered escalor. We took it up. Then there was another escalator, and we took that up. And we kept taking escalators up until we were just outside the San Francesco church and it's lovely open piazza! A short jaunty though the closed to cars medieval streets and we were at the market! And in the end, the four hours of parking cost us only 6.40 Euro.
The Wednesday market in Siena is an event not to be missed. Like the market in San Lorenzo in Firenze, there are souvenier shops and leather good shops, but the Siena market also has fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, and fish, and in terms of souveniers and leather goods, it has a much larger selection. I can't post what I purchased though as they are gifts, but I will say I got a great deal on them! I love open air markets.
After getting my shopping fix at the market, it was lunch time. The restaurant we chose was called Il Biondo, and rememer that name if you ever go to Siena, because it was amazing! Easily the best meal I've had since I've been in Italy on this trip. Everything that was brought to our table was delicious. Now I'm going to make your mouth water and your stomach rumble just a little bit. We had a spaghetti alla vognole (clams), ravioli “il biondo” that was stuffed with a spinach pesto, and lasagne with a meat and red wine sauce and a souffle top! But the best part of the meal by far was the anti pasti! We ordered a prosciutto e melone which had the ripest melon I've ever tasted and the most prefectly salted and sliced prosciutto. Then the real winner of the lunch was the eggplant parmesean that I will dream about for years to come and try to replicate for even longer. The sauteed eggplant was layered with cheeses, alternating between fresh mozzarella and pecorino. The top layer was a marinara sauce covered in a thick layer of pecorino cheese. Oh. My. Goodness. When I figure out how to replicate this dish, I will share it with you all, and you will fall in love just as I have.
Tomorrow I am traveling back home. I have to take the train from Firenze to Roma, then from Roma to Roma Termini, then get on my plane to Montreal where I will have a three hour layover, then head into Newark where I will land at 9pm. Because I've got such a long layover, I've decided to go ahead and check my bag. I am so looking forward to sitting on planes all day! Can you sense the sarcasm?