Wheels of cheeses at the Siena market

Market Day and Sightseeing in Siena, Italy

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

Our intention was to head to the Fortezza and the large parking lot. 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 during the Siena market day activities.

The Siena market is focused on locals and not geared to tourists (similar to the markets in Bologna and Palermo). 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 obviously headed straight to the food section of the market.

A table of peppers, lettuce, and artichokes for sale on Siena market day
Summer’s bounty

Somehow the summer weather, 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.

People shopping at a 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.

We spent several hours shopping to put together an elaborate picnic for the next day (more on that below).

Seafood table with different fish at Siena market day
Table of meats and seafood
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.

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! 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. While expensive, 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 located inside the Etruscan tombs
Antica Osteria da Divo is underground in an Etruscan tomb

The name of the city might as well be called Siena Italy Food Town. The entire city just knows how to source the best ingredients and combine them in the besty ways.

The next day, we packed up our picnic headed to the famous Saturnia Hot Springs in Tuscany for the day.

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