multiple cheeses at the Siena market

Market Day and Sightseeing in Siena, Italy

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It’s Wednesday. And that means it’s market day in Siena, Italy. We love local markets around the world and we were excited to see this one.

We left the hotel mid-morning headed for the Fortezza. This is was an absolutely horrible decision and landed us in traffic for nearly an hour as we tried to negotiate the market-related activity. Ultimately, we were able to get to the Santa Caterina parking lot, a small parking lot with an escalator leading up into the town. It’s farther from the center of the town than the Fortezza lot, but it was better than the alternatives on market day.

The market is focused on locals and not geared to tourists. We always find this better than the alternative because it gives visitors a tiny insight into daily life. There were rows upon rows of clothes and kitchen supplies and, of course, food. We headed straight to the food section of the market.

Peppers, lettuce, and artichokes for sale on Siena market day
Summer’s bounty

Somehow summer, the Tuscan sun, and Italy itself are the perfect combination of factors to produce the most deeply-colored and fragrant fruits and vegetables we’ve seen pretty much anywhere in the world.

Popular fruit and vegetable stand
Popular fruit and vegetable stand

Since European refrigerators are small and Italians love the freshest ingredients, they shop several times a week. It’s necessary for markets to cater to those needs. As a result, the meat section of the Siena market is extensive, and the products are varied. There are the typical cured meats that you might expect in Italy, but there is also a lot of seafood and other types of fresh meat.

Seafood table with different fish at Siena market day
It’s easy to tell if seafood is fresh in an open air market — if it’s fishy smelling, stay away
Roasted pig head wearing a hat and glasses
A sense of humor for the vendor selling pork sandwiches

In the afternoon, we went to the Museo Civico on Il Campo, which features lots of paintings by local Sienese artists. I enjoyed the Sala della Pace hall where the city’s leaders used to meet. The loggia offers remarkable views of the countryside. Admission to the museum is €9.00.

Siena's red brick town hall
Siena’s Town Hall that houses Museo Civico

After the museum, we stopped for gelato nearby at Il Camerlengo. It was mighty tasty and well worth the €2. Gelato in hand, we lounged in the square for a while soaking up the atmosphere, which is, after all, the best part of being in Italy.

After a quick dip in the hotel pool, we headed to Antica Osteria da Divo for dinner. The restaurant is in the basement of a building right near the Duomo. As you descend the steps, you turn and suddenly find yourself in these vaulted Etruscan tombs from the time before Christ. Antica Osteria da Divo has tremendous ambiance and food to match.

For dinner, we had these buttery, juicy scallops that just melt in your mouth. For pastas, my wife had the gnocchi which was extremely delicate. I had the delightful Tuscan wild boar pasta. We did not order the risotto, but really wished we had. The table next to us ordered it and it smelled amazing and is served tableside out of a giant Parmigiano-Reggiano. Wow! For meat, I had the duck – which was top notch. Despite the quite pricey €130.00 cost, we found it to be remarkably good value and we basically shut the place down. We capped off the evening with a lovely limoncello. This was the best meal of our entire trip in Tuscany.

Interior of the restaurant
Antica Osteria da Divo is underground in an Etruscan tomb

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