Siena is a medieval town, famous all over the world for its shell-shaped main square and for the biannual horse race held in its extraordinary theater, an event that dates back to the seventeenth century.
In some ways, Siena represents a distant world kept alive in everyone’s memory by folk tales, idioms and, more simply, by the stories that our grandparents told us as children and that we, in turn, will tell our grandchildren. As long as there is memory, as long as there are these collective rites, then we can say that that past is not so far away!
Siena in the autumn: A flavor experience!
From a distance, Siena appears like a jewel set amongst hills in colors of green and gold, and the surrounding countryside offers excellent products that attract lovers of good food and high quality wine.
As you may know, extraordinary red wines are produced in Tuscany and it is easy to get lost amongst the colorful labels of the bottles on sale in the city wine shops and the choice can be very complex. In the vineyards around Siena, three of the best Tuscan, and therefore Italian, wines are produced: the Chianti Classico, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Nobile di Montepulciano.
But the culinary delights of Tuscany don’t just stop at wine. The olive trees, scattered everywhere, produce an oil with an intense color and a strong flavor. This liquid plays a very important role in the local cuisine. It is the most popular condiment and is used for all types of food, including dressing vibrant salads and adding that creamy decadence to Italian pasta dishes. Tuscan olive oil is rich in vitamins and healthy fats, and is certainly one of the most important ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. You can buy good olive oil throughout the year, but the most anticipated by the locals is “the new oil”, which is the one produced fresh that season. In the months immediately following the harvest and the pressing, locals organize special dinners to celebrate the new oil. The main dishes served at these special dinners are chickpea soup, raw vegetables and, of course, freshly baked Tuscan bread (certainly the best way to really taste this product). These dinners represent a sort of ritual that is repeated year after year, generation after generation, and are a way to regain contact with a life made up of simple things and authentic people, marked by the passage of the seasons and the sunrise.
But the new oil is not the only delicacy that autumn offers in Tuscany: mushrooms, chestnuts and truffles are the main ingredients of the local dishes at this time of year. Certainly, if you opt to visit Siena in the autumn months, you will have the opportunity to savor authentic tastes and, above all, explore the city whilst avoiding the clamor and overcrowding of the tourist season.
By Benedetta Landi, Bellarome Tour Director (Siena and the surrounding area)