Monday, October 24, 2011


We really lucked out with the weather in the Cinque Terre. Although it was intermittently rainy the afternoon we arrived (and a crazy storm rolled through that first night), for the rest of the time, the weather was perfectly sunny, beautiful, and warm. In the sunlight, it sometimes felt like summer. But today, as we made our way by train from Vernazza to Siena, some seriously gloomy clouds were brewing, and the forecast for the next couple of days does not look good.

Palazzo Pubblico, Il Campo, Siena

At any rate, we made it to Siena in the early afternoon, and I was looking forward to what would be my third stay at a cool, small bed & breakfast place called B&B San Francesco. I was kind of bummed, however, when we showed up and were given the room directly outside the communal breakfast dining area. Not only that, but the room itself is a little lacking and drab compared to the two other rooms I’d stayed in before. Apparently none of the other rooms are available this week. 

We headed straight for Il Campo, which might be the most beautiful and perfect public space in the world. Terezia was awestruck. We then made our way to the piazza with the Duomo and surrounding gothic buildings, and again, Terezia was awestruck. Siena is a seriously beautiful town, and for a medieval and renaissance architecture geek like me, the place is pure heaven.

Il Campo, Siena

Il Campo, Siena

After lunch, we headed straight to Gelateria Kopa Kabana, which I’ve long been claiming has the best gelato I’ve ever had in Italy. And indeed, their cioccolato fondente and nocciola (hazelnut) did not disappoint, and easily trumps every other gelato I've had. However, quite shockingly, the fragola (strawberry) that Terezia ordered was a colossal disappointment. It was icy and tasted fake. I was totally shocked because in the past, their flavors and quality/consistency have always been top notch. I just don’t know what to make of this crappy fragola incident! Totally vexing. But Terezia agreed that my fondente and nocciola were utterly amazing. Weird! But we’ll be back.

Sitting in Il Campo, gazing up at the tower...

For dinner we went to what’s become an old Siena standby, Gallo Nero. I got to have pappardelle with funghi porcini, which is absolutely the best example of this particular dish I’ve ever had anywhere. Terezia ordered pici with a white ragout (of ground hen, I think?) with pistachios, which was also excellent. For a secondo, we split a wonderfully tender and flavorful ossobuco, and an insalata mista. Red house wine was really good and super cheap. This meal is definitely in the top three of the trip so far, and I was thrilled to see that Gallo Nero has still got “it.” We’ll be coming back for more later this week. (Sorry, I seem to be having a difficult time remembering to photograph the food we order, because when I get it in front of me, I just want to dive right in. I only remembered to photograph it after we'd finished). 

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