Umbria Blog | A day trip to Siena

There are a lot of wonderful places to visit when you’re on a holiday in Umbria. If you’re staying in Perugia or around the Trasimeno Lake even a visit to Siena in Tuscany is quite easy to organise.

Siena is one of the most wonderful villages in Tuscany with many good restaurants in its historical centre. Planning a visit to Siena can also include a visit to the Abbey of San Galgano. If you haven’t yet seen Siena though, this may be too much in one day. In that case you’d better spent your time visiting the many sites in this medieval city.

Siena

Siena
On a cold winter day we went to Siena for a lunch in Osteria Boccon del Prete together with Saskia Balmaekers from the famous Dutch blog CiaoTutti.nl. A very cosy restaurant where you can eat real Tuscan food. On the day-menu were “paccheri with truffle and funghi” and the traditional antipasti. The wines they serve are of high quality. I personally prefer drinking a glass of Chianti Classico with my pasta, but don’t underestimate the white Vernaccia. Osteria Boccon del Prete is close to the Duomo in the Via S. Pietro.

Boccon del Prete

Boccon del Prete

Boccon del Prete

The Abbey of San Galgano
In Chiusdino, about 35 km from Siena are the remains of the the Abbey of San Galgano. The Abbey has a church and a monastery originally built by the Cistercian monks. This Abbey is in Gothic style and is famous because of the legend of Galgano.

The Abbey of San Galgano

The Abbey was built by Cistercian monks between 1218 and 1288. For many years they led a prosperous life here. Later mercenaries attacked the abbey and its grounds, the plague also hit in this part of Europe and in the 15th Century there were only still 8 monks left who moved to Siena. There were no monks any more in the Abbey. In 1786, lightning struck the bell tower which collapse on to the roof of the Abbey and the church was deconsecrated in 1789.

The Abbey was completely abandoned ever since.

The Abbey of San Galgano

The Abbey of San Galgano

The hermitage of Montesiepi
On a small hill close to the Abbey, a 10 minutes walk, is the Chapel of Montesiepi. This Chapel has been built on the spot where Saint Galgano had retired to live as a hermit. Now the Chapel has a round base and the walls are later frescoed by a Sienese painter. The interior of the Chapel is quite basic but interesting.

In the hermitage is the sword of Saint Galgano embedded in stone. After a horrible life as a soldier Saint Galgano wanted to dedicate his life to peace and to God. He believed in a new life living in faith. He died in 1181 and with this the legend of Saint Galgano was born. Saint Galgano is a catholic Saint. His sword is still in the stone in the centre of the Chapel.

The sword of San Galgano

Saint Galgano is one of the most visited monuments in the Tuscan countryside. The historical Abbey has become a romantic ruin with only the remains of the church. During Summer concerts and events are held in the Abbey.

When you are in the area during your holiday in Italy, a visit to San Galgano is worthwhile. There is also a playground for children. Dogs may not enter the monastery and the church.

Address:

Abbazia di San Galgano
Località San Galgano
53012 Chiusdino Siena
Tel:   +39 (0) 577756738
website

Halloween in Italy

Chiusi is one of these typical hilltop towns in the South Tuscany, on the Umbria/Tuscany border. It used to be an Etruscan city.

Chiusi overlooks the valley of Valdichiana. Chiana used to be a side river of the Tiber. Lake Chiusi and Lake Montepulciano are two important wetlands close to Chiusi. The lakes are wonderful. This area attracts many tourists for a scroll along the lake, a bike tour or just a picknick.

Along the lakes you find good restaurants, one of them is restaurant Pesce d’Oro. Here you can eat local fish dishes. I’ve been there a couple of times for dinner and loved it!

Yesterday we had a Halloween dinner here. The menu featured a four course menu with local fish and pumpkin:

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Antipasto (appetizer): Barattolino saporito di cicerchia e anguilla con insalata tiepida di farro e bocconcini di tinca affumicata
– Eel served in a sauce of warm grass pea combined with farro salad and smoked tench

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Primo piatto (pasta): Tagliolini al carbone con guazzetto di tinca e crema di zucca e funghi
– Black (coal) tagliolini served with pumpkin cream, mushrooms and stewed tench

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Secondo piatto (main dish): filetto di boccalone in crosta di patate
-Boccalone (typical white fish from the Lake Chiusi) served in a potato crust

Dolce (dessert): Tortino tiepido di noci con gelato di zucca
– A nut pastry and pumpkin ice cream

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We combined the four course menu with a good local white wine, and for the dessert the owner of the restaurant suggested us to drink a digestive sweet wine of Piemonte: Brachetto d’Acqui. Awesome.

– post by Sylvia van der Male –

Craft beer tasting in Nocera Umbra, San Biagio

With Belgium guests and friends of Villa in Umbria we went to a craft beer cellar in Nocera Umbria, San Biagio. Nocera Umbra is only 25 km away from Assisi. Giovanni, the owner of San Biagio, brews craft beer. He uses local water of Nocera Umbra with local beer ingedrients: malt, hops and yeast.

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SanBiagio2

Brewing beer is not very complicated, they say. The basic beer ingedrients are important. Even at home in Umbria some people make their own beer. Honestly, I really don’t know how, I do not brew beer, but I love drinking it!

SanBiagio12

SanBiagio11

You might think that in Umbria, Italy one only drinks wine and many people do. The famous wines in Umbria are Rosso di Montefalco, Umbria Rosso, Grecchetto, Trebbiano and last but not least the Sagrantino. But in Umbria we also drink craft beer!

SanBiagio9

Belgians are beer experts, they know what good beer is. Stefan, a friend of mine in Belgium, is now on a holiday in Gubbio and he bought some good beers to take home. Not just to drink it, but also to let locals taste the “Umbrian” craft beer of San Biagio.

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The Monasta, Amber, Verbum, Gaudens and Aurum are very different kinds of beer. We’ve tasted them all. And the best and particular part of all was the “Truffle” beer. It smells like truffle, but when you take a sip, the taste os of a fresh good beer. Excellent to  combine with truffle and meat dishes.

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At San Biagio you can always pass by to taste and buy beer. Be aware, call beforehand, and take some cash money with you.

After the beer tasting we went to a Slow Food restaurant “Villa della Cupa” in Gualdo Tadino. A location where you can eat traditional and local food (also an ideal place for vegetarian and vegans).

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StincodiMaiale

As a starter we took beans, lentils and different kinds of sheep cheese with apple marmalade.

As a main course I had chicken in milk and plum sauce. Stefan took the traditional “stinco di maiale” the ham hock and Marian the sister of Stefan ate the home made onion soup. Delightful! They do not serve beer, but local red wine.

A nice day in Umbria, tasting beer and having diner in a Slow Food restaurant. And the prices are more than decent, both visits are absolutely recommended!

-Post by Sylvia van der Male-