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Sixteen days in Italy and made it back in one piece. My opinions on Siena.

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Sixteen days in Italy and made it back in one piece. My opinions on Siena.

Old Oct 24th, 1999, 05:35 PM
  #1  
Stephen
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Sixteen days in Italy and made it back in one piece. My opinions on Siena.

Hello again. Installment two-Siena. Ah Siena is what the tour books say. If you have been there you know wherefore the Ah! If not perhaps my totally unobjective opinions will peak your interest. First, thanks to the responses to my post pre-trip to questions about staying in Florence vs. somewhere else. We were very glad we stayed in Siena. Florence, subject of an upcomming instalment, would have been much harder for us to eojoy as a home base. More on that later.
Siena. Great place. We stayed at the Chiusarelli, recommended by the fabled Italian sage Paulo. Although this hotel, IMO, lacked what I consider European atmosphere, it was a very nice and comfortable hotel. Again, for me location is the biggie and this place had it. About 2 minutes from the San Domenico bus stop. Great breakfast, nice people, very comfortable rooms. Would stay there again. We used Siena as a base for daytrips to Florence, San Gimignano, Pisa, and Lucca. The bus connections to the cities and to the Florence bus station were very easy. It took 75 minutes to get to Florence on the Course Rapide bus run by SITA. Easy. So much for the extras, how about Siena.
Siena's center is a walled medieval city with dark brown brick buildings rising up from winding, narrow lanes. Full of people, mostly day-trippers by day, at night Siena was quiet, mysterious, very atmospheric. staying there really opened the city up to us. Highlights for us:

1) Il Campo-on first view this square stopped me in my tracks. It is stunning. There, during busy daytime, was a buzz of poeple which was caught by the buildings surrounding and forming the Campo. This hum was unlike any sound I had heard before and I will always remember it. The Torre del Mangia, all 300 steps, was well worth the climb for the view of the warren on Siena.
2) The Duomo is fabulous. Striped outside, filled with wonderful art, this is a very memorable church. Don't miss it
3) San Domenico church-near the bus stop, this church has the mummified head of Saint Catherine. Yup, her head is right there on the alter. Rest of her is in Rome! Later.
4) we walked the back streets of the city and had a blast. So much of the fun for us is away from the usual stuff. We walked for a whole afternoon and found several local churches, stores, and unexpecteds that made the city memorable.

Although we spent 6 nights here we only spend one full day in the city. Most nights we ate here and had some memorable meals. Although less reliable, we did find some good food and drink in restaurants on Il Campo. Can't remember there names but just walking by and reading the menu gives a pretty good idea.

Siena is well worth the visit and, if possible, a stay. Consider it. Next stop, Florence. See you later. Stephen
 
Old Oct 25th, 1999, 05:43 AM
  #2  
Patty
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Thank you, Stephen, for the imput on Siena. Do you remember what your room cost per nite or did you get a discount for multiple nites?
Does the hotel have a website? Patty
 
Old Oct 25th, 1999, 05:49 AM
  #3  
Carol
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This is for Patty--check out "Paolo's famous walking tour of Siena," it has the hotel's website address-- and so much more about Siena.
 
Old Oct 25th, 1999, 07:49 AM
  #4  
Stephen
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Hi, yes the hotel has a website. It is:
http://web.tin.it/chiusarelli/indexta.
htm

Cost us 165000 lire with a great breakfast.

 
Old Oct 25th, 1999, 08:32 AM
  #5  
Paulo
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To Patty, Carol and others that intend to stay in Siena, rather than to visit it on a daytrip.

Even though, as pointed out by Stephen, the breakfast at the Chiusarelli is great, I would recommend not taking it at least one time in your stay. If you make it clear by the time you reserve, you should get a discount of Lit 25,000-30,000 on your rate for that day.

As Stephen also pointed out, Siena is something else at night, when day trippers have left. But IMO the Il Campo is even more so early in the morning. If you're able to wake up and to be at the piazza before 8am you'll understand what I mean. And the best way to experience this is to have breakfast on a little balcony overlooking the piazza at a caffe on Via di Citta. You'll spend probably less than the discount the Chiusarelli will give you. Of course, it doesn't make much sense doing this on days you're planning to explore Tuscany, by car or by bus. If you want to take off as early as possible breakfast at the hotel is very convenient.

I totally agree with Stephen about the lack of "atmosphere" of the Chiusarelli. It does have some traces of the American hotel culture (no frills, no nonsense type of service) and their price policy (lowest for a 3-star in Siena and no distinction between low and high seasons), similar to the Giorgione in Venice, indicates that their priority is to have full house all year long.

Finally, travellers staying longer in Siena should take careful notice of Stephen's highlight # 4 above ... As in Venice and in Rome, one that hasn't done it really can't feel how special the city really is. Unfortunately, it's very hard for first time visitors on a day trip to trade off major sites for such a stroll!
Paulo

 

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