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A Villa in Tuscany - Part 3 of a Series - Siena Market
This is a continuation of the Series -A Villa in Tuscany. In part 1 we started off our week waking up in Casa Rasa - our villa. That day we toured our closest town, Buonconvento, had lunch in Montalcino and then ended the day having cocktails with our hosts on their patio. Part 2 of this series saw us visiting Cortona, the town surrounding the story Frances Mayes wrote - "Under The Tuscan Sun". Today we are visiting Siena Market.
It's Wednesday, and we can't believe that already we are in the middle of the week of our stay at Casa Rasa. However, we have the whole day ahead of us and we are going to make good use of it. Craig and I have offered to do Salmon for dinner tonight and that means a trip into Siena market as we were told the first day in Buonconvento that fresh fish in this area can only be obtained at the market. The market at La Lizza, Siena runs every Wednesday from 8AM to 1PM; it will take us about 45 minutes to get there, so after breakfast we six take off in two separate cars - heading north in a "fairly straight forward fashion"
I say fairly straightforward fashion because to be honest much of the time we seemed to be going around in circles and heading back the way we came. There were any number of arrows, triangles, circles, squares and rectangles on the autostrade signs which did not really make much sense to us, although I'm sure they did to the Italians. One probably should have read up on all of this before venturing out, but in the end we just winged it and pretended like we really knew what we were doing all along. And the mileage did not seem to make any sense at all. For example, you'd see a sign saying Siena was 20 km alway and then a few km down the road another one would say Siena was now 22 km away. Did I say we seemed to be going in circles? Honestly, we were going straight - as straight as one could with all of these crazy signs.
Approaching the market area we quickly realize we have another problem - and that is finding a place to park. It looked like the whole of Tuscany was here and that is not really any kind of exaggeration. Both cars ended up going round and round the perimeter road with no luck at all of finding a spot to park. After making a pass twice we lost sight of Sandy and Joe, but we kept going. Twenty minutes later we caught on to how its done in this neck of the woods. We started to see folks standing around in the parking areas, and it wasn't until we saw one jump into a spot as soon as a car left that we realized what happening. Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do - or in Siena - whatever. Quickly Craig and I jumped out of the car, leaving Al and Louise to circle around the block. We'd already lost a couple of spots , when finally Craig alerted me to movement on my side. Desperately hoping to avoid a scene, or a fisticuffs with other folks who also had their eye on the spot, I quickly jumped into the spot and held my ground. Thankfully Al and Louise arrived right at that time and we waved them in. Success!!! In the meantme, Sandy and Joe had given up, and having been in Siena many times before, they headed back to the villa. We were after all not touring Siena today, we were just market shopping. So off the four of us went.
Look At That Boars Head
Making our way into the market area we were greeted with the wonderful colours and aromas that these market places hold. With Salmon on our mind we checked out a few stalls before making our decision, holding out for what we thought looked the best. Along the way we also picked up fresh veggies and cheese and whatever else took our fancy. One display with a boar's head on the counter, a small loaf of bread in its mouth, took our fancy and so of course out came the cameras.
After we'd had our fill of the food area we made our way over to the jewellry and clothing area along with the colourful flower vendors. It was a gorgeous day, with blue cloudless skies and just a comfortable temperature for early May, so we took our time wandering around for the next hour. Like Sandy and Joe we have toured Siena before, and as we can't spend too much time walking around with fresh salmon in our booty we decide to head back to the Villa in time to catch lunch somewhere else.
Lunch in Buonconvento
Back at the Villa once more we find that Sandy and Joe are not around, so we decide to put she Salmon and veggies away and head down to Buonconvento for lunch. We think to have lunch at Ristorante Da Mario's where we had dinner the night before but are a bit disappointed to find that the restaurant is full. However, the hostess, who does not speak English, manages to get it across to us that this is "no problem, come with me" with hand signals, and up the stairs she goes leading us to a second floor.
This second floor turns out to be more of a locals spot, as we quickly look around and see people who have come in on their lunch break. We are led to a small table, set with a white linen tablecloth and in the middle of the table sits a bottle of wine, as though waiting just for us. The lady who we now realize is the owner says to us "Vino Bianco"/"Vino Rosso"? To which we quickly reply "Vino Bianco" and with a flourish she whisks the bottle of red off the table and returns with a bottle of white plunking it down in the middle of our table. Already we are having fun.
We quickly realize we have no menus, but then in no time she is back at our table and with a small pad in her hand she begins to recite: "Pasta - penne, fettuccini, spaghetti etc. etc.; Salsa - pomodori, arrabiata, bolognese" etc. etc. And then she rhymed off some meat entrees. This was so neat; it was like being in someone's private dining room, and in no time we had all made our choices, settling in with our bread and glasses of wine. When our meals arrived they were absolutely delicious as expected. Having gone through the bottle of Vino Bianco, we decided that we needed to have some more. Another bottle would be too much, but why not another half a litre. How to get this across to them?? Spotting a young fellow wandering by, I decided to try my Italian - which I don't speak, even though I am Italian background - but I'm game to try. I catch his attention saying "Scuse" - he comes over and I say "voglio Vino Bianco" - all the while putting my hand at the half bottle mark - with a question in my eyes. Really, it's the best I can do. -LOL. He looked at me, stepped back, looked around and said "no, no". Out of nowhere his mother appeared and said "si, si" and gestured the way I did at the bottle and in Italian told us we would just pay for what we drank. Done!!
Before we leave, and in my halting Italian we ask about times for dinner the next night and manage to make reservations for the six of us. We are sure we can convince Sandy and Joe to join us.
The End to Another Perfect Day
Back at the Villa we find Sandy and Joe standing in one of the archways of the loggia watching us approach. They have obviously enjoyed their day moving around the countryside and we quickly tell them about our afternoon and the arrangements for dinner tomorrow night. Everyone is in agreement as we settle into some relaxing time before we have to think of preparing dinner. Another glass of wine in hand and Chantal Chamberlain's soft romantic songs coming from the player we are happy to lounge on the loggia, reminiscing about the days already gone by on this trip as well as others we have taken together in the past.
It's getting a little chilly outside, so we venture back in and Craig and I start to put dinner together. It's a simple dinner of Salmon with lemon butter and herbs as well as asparagus roasted in the oven. Sandy and Joe look on when I am preparing the asparagus dish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted "just until tender". After dinner they decree that as well as enjoying the salmon, the asparagus is one they will be doing when they get back home.
It is now getting noticeably cooler, but we don't want to put the heat on. Instead we don our jackets and Louise wraps a blanket around her shoulders. We take our wineglasses to the kitchen ocunter, dishes are done, and so we just lounge around and talk about our big day coming up tomorrow.
Tomorrow we go to Pienza - my favourite town of our week at the villa. Please come back and have a look.