Siena, what great knockers you have!

Despite visiting Siena twice and finding my favorite restaurant in Tuscany, I never managed to write a post about it. We first visited nearly three weeks ago, while the grandparents hung out with the kids back at the villa. Since the city has few entrances through its intact walls, and since the streets are quite narrow, there are severe restrictions on car traffic. That makes for a very pleasant experience for visitors, because cars and even scooters pass through only infrequently, and always at a reasonable speed. Even so, there’s still apparently a market for driving school in Siena:

But Siena is perhaps best-known for its dramatic campanile, so large that it can only be accommodated by rotating my camera at an angle!

It’s also got a nifty duomo, whose façade is dramatically encrusted with elaborate sculptures:

Yet somehow what attracted my attention most is its truly impressive knockers (no, it’s not what you’re thinking! Get your mind out of the gutter!). Just check out this pair:

Sorry, couldn’t resist another pun, but now you can see what I’m talking about. This sort of hardware is rarely seen on American doors. In addition to its fabulous knockers, Siena also sports an impressive collection of what I’m guessing are horse-hitches, attached to the sides of buildings at even intervals. This set caught my eye:

I also liked this one:

But the one feature of Siena that most titillated my senses was the food at an amazing restaurant called Il Ghibellino. On our first visit I had the most succulent grilled veal I’ver ever tasted. It was perfectly cooked and seasoned with just salt and a little olive oil. Greta had a hearty crepe with cheese and asparagus. We liked the place so much that we returned to Siena just to eat at this restaurant with the kids. We arrived in town at about 2:15 and were worried they’d be closed for lunch, so after a mad scramble for parking-meter change at the town wall, we ran through the streets and were admitted as the last table seated at 2:30. We weren’t disappointed in our pasta with fresh porcini mushrooms and black truffles.

As I write this post, I’m on the plane to Prague, which, our guidebook says, isn’t a place you visit for the food. I hope the lousy airport pizza I had before we boarded the plane doesn’t stand as the best food I’ll eat this week. Oh well. At least the beer will be good.

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