MY PERFECT DAY IN SIENESE TUSCANY
Wake up to the sound of Siena’s bell tower at Grand Hotel Continental ( www.grandhotelcontinentalsiena.com), the city’s only five-star hotel embodying Renaissance architecture. Stroll down via Banchi di Sopra, stopping at Bar Nannini ( www.pasticcerienannini.it) for the perfect ricciarello almond cookie, then on to piazza il Campo where Siena’s Palio bareback horse race takes place. After exploring Siena, head to Montepulciano. Meat lovers will adore Macelleria Belli ( www.macelleriabelli.it) in picture-perfect Torrita di Siena – its famous bistecca alla Fiorentina T-bone steak is exquisite.
A brick ceiling presides over the interior of Ristorante La Grotta ( www.lagrottamonte- pulciano.it), in the village of San Biagio, a five-minute drive from Montepulciano. Revel in the guinea fowl and prune pappardelle, followed by pigeon cooked two ways. The wines focus on local labels.
Take a Strada del Vino Nobile food or wine tour ( www. stradavinonobile.it) – options include the Chianina Cattle Tour featuring a visit to a farm, or the Water and Wine experience, which includes a treatment at a spa and a visit to a local winery. Watch the sunset at La Dogana Enoteca at Valiano with delicious nibbles and Palazzo Vecchio’s own Vino Nobile (see p105), or unwind at the decadent Caffè Poliziano ( www.caffepoliziano.it) in central Montepulciano – the ambience is a throwback to another era.
Return to Siena where you can wine and dine superbly at Osteria Le Logge ( www.giannibrunelli.it). The food is seasonal and lovingly prepared into creative Tuscan dishes, while the cellar is vast and doesn’t disappoint: four floors bearing 11,000 local and international labels. Expect the more traditional and some truly bizarre concoctions – such as carbonara, coconut and banana pasta – which nevertheless always seem to work in this red-brick restaurant close to piazza il Campo.
Siena’s Grand Hotel Continental