Torre del Mangia-The Writing is on the Wall
In case you want a bit of background on the tower, you can find it on the wall at the base of the steps. Hand written signs like this one with a brief description of the tower in every language you can imagine have been posted there.
Enchanting erosion in Crete Senesi
Ever since I saw a photo of this landscape in Google Earth, I wanted to see it with my own eyes. On my way back from Gubbio I realised that it is close from the highway and so I turned off at Asciano and tried to find it. Since my trip to Gubbio and thus renting a car and being flexible on the weekend wasn’t planned, I didn’t have the exact location with me, so all I could do was guessing where it might be. Luckily I remembered that it was close to Abbazia Monte Oliveto and this was marked in the map I had bought in Siena. On my way to the monastery I passed marvellous sights and despite the grey weather I could imagine how beautiful this would look in sunshine or in summer. And when I finally turned around the corner just after the tiny hilltop village of Chiusure – it was there, exactly as I had remembered it from the photo. Sunshine was missing but with the exploding autumn colours of the trees it was indeed a magic sight. The white “formations” are a result of erosion in this clay landscape, and the Italian word for it is biancane (bianco = white).
Drive direction Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Whichever way you choose, the best viewpoint is between the road up to the monastery and the junction to Chiusure on road SS451/SP451. There is a lay-by big enough for several busses.
In case you come by bus to the monastery: it is at the bottom of the road to the monastery, only a couple of metres to walk downhill.
Abbazia Monte Oliveto Maggiore on Google Maps
© Ingrid D., November 2010 (just in case, RickS or others come along and think they can steal texts).
VERY friendly ristorante
We stopped at Ristorante Guido for lunch at the recommendation of the owners of the house we were renting. Guido is Siena's answer to Sardi's in New York. Or maybe Sardi's is New York's answer to Guido's. Plastered all over the walls were autographed 8 x 10s of famous Italian entertainers. We challenged ourselves by trying to find one we had heard of.
The service was very good, but I thought the waiter was just a bit too friendly with my 13 year old daughter! We liked the antipasti and my son liked his lamb dish. The food was pricey. Wine list was extensive. However, we could have found many places where the food was as good but less expensive.
Take a Two Week Language Course
Why don't you consider enrolling at one of the language schools in Siena for a couple of weeks. You will get more of a taste of life there, meet interesting people from all over the world, and learn a little Italian. You can also take a cooking course at the school. I suggest the school I attended, Dante Alighieri, but there are others.
Go to the famous pasticceria Nannini and try some ricciarelli, scrumptious almond cookies. Siena is also famous for their panoforte, a dense cake (reminds me of fruitcake) so if you feel like it try that too!