Our first full day in Tuscany.
I swear I'll show you pictures of where we stayed in the next Europe post, but the gorgeous farmer who runs the place brought us breakfast to our room. Some of the most perfectly rustic and delicious pastries and cakes I've come across and some good hot black coffee for mum and dad. Seriously, an Italian guy who brings me sweets for breakfast? It's a pretty good deal...
We actually spent our morning driving to 'Lo Spaccio', also know as 'The Space', also known as the amazing Prada outlet in Tuscany. Seriously, the place is as big as Myers or something. It also happened to be my brother's birthday, although I think I probably ended up with a bigger pile of Prada goodies than he did...some absolutely jaw dropping prices though!
A few hours later though, we were getting quite peckish and decided to drive through the beautiful green rolling hills, to see if we could make our way to Siena to go hunt for some lunch.
With the help of our very handy little GPS (our trip would have taken twice as long without it), it didn't take us long until we found ourselves a park and made our way to the famous square.
You really had no way of driving into the heart of the city (that and it was prohibited anyway), the roads were so narrow, which were flanked by lovely old buildings, livened with cheery red and yellow decorations. The jester-esque street lamps in particular caught my eye and were fun to follow in the long walk to Piazzo del Campo.
Upon coming face to face with it, Dad kept asking 'Do you remember that scene from James Bond?! It was here!', which it was indeed. It would have been amazing to see it decked out as a racetrack, but even just as it was, it really was quite spectacular. Everyone from families, couples, school kids and businessmen were loitering about the place, enjoying the last rays of sunshine as it got and more overcast...
But first things first, food. We just picked one of the restaurants outlining the square and took a seat outside, as it was still somewhat balmy. A glass of white wine and a calabrese makes Ashley, a happy girl. Although my basil was very sparse. Which then makes Ashley a little bit sadder.
Tim's mushroom risotto and my parent's spaghetti vongole took a little longer to get out than we would have liked, but the wait was absolutely worth it. I was actually quite surprised how good the food was, considering it was in the most touristy part of Siena, you would think that the food would be over priced and a little bit sloppy.
This was hardly the case. I couldn't help but keep picking at Tim's risotto which was so flavoursome and I was just enamoured by the texture and flavour of my parent's pasta. Just look at the shape of the beautiful ribbons and that gorgeous colour. And of course, the vongole had the most beautiful flavour to them, it really makes the pasta just taste of the ocean.
Next stop was naturally...gelato! Dad got there a lot faster than the rest of us.
There's just something magical about gelato stores over your American styled ice-cream stores. Rather than scooping holes into containers, gelato stores carve out from the mountains of colours behind the glass. I love how visually stimulating it is to walk into one of the stores, who doesn't go "oooooh!" upon seeing all that?!
Life's far too short to not take time out to eat gelato with the family. It's always enjoyed more together.
Mmm. Italian men. Mmmmm.
Wandering on away from the square, we accidentally stumbled onto the Duomo di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) which is breathtaking, especially when you're not expecting it. Whilst Cologne's gothic and dark Dom in Germany is like a dark brooding man, Duomo di Siena was the exact opposite, more like a blushing bride in all it's white beauty, filled with details and dusted with most subtle of pink and green. We never really bothered to go inside any of the churches, as the queues were always too long and we are quite content to stay outside and admire the exterior which has managed to stand the weather.
It's quite amazing to think that it's made of marble, which always sounds like such a heavy and cumbersome material!
On our way out, mum was insistent on finding somewhere to have an espresso, the Italian way, standing up by the counter. Which is the immensely cheaper way of doing it as well! At 90 Euro cents for the shot, who can complain too much?