Reflections of Siena, part IV

Basta Cosi!

Part IV of IV

Siena's center of town.

Thankfully, the train transfer went off without a hitch and the view from the train was great. I loved traveling through the Tuscan country side. The rolling hills – those familiar perfect pointy trees you seen in paintings – the winding drives leading up to a house on a hill – it’s all true. I even had pleasant company. I met a woman named Jing from China. We talked about where we were from, what we did for a living, and where we were going. She was traveling all over Italy, only stopping a few days in each town where she would end up. I explained to her that I was going to spend three weeks in Siena while working for a studio there. She was impressed and was inspired to plan a trip next time instead of just roaming around. The time flew and before you knew it our stops came along and we said our goodbyes, but then decided to share a taxi service to Siena. We arrived in Siena and she and I final said farewell and good luck. For a while I felt at ease, but that false sense of comfort was about to be shattered.

One of the windows Massimo and Gianni created. St. Monica and St. Augustine

Since Siena has laws about cars traveling throughout the ancient town, I walked to my street, all the while thinking and hoping that someone was there to let me in when I arrived at my apartment. Remember, it is New Year’s Day.

I find the door – knock – no answer. I try again. No answer. Oh, please Lord, have someone answer. Nothing happened. I then decided to call Massimo Bracciali, one of the owners of the studio, to see if he could let me in. Thank the good Lord! He answered. Unfortunately he told me that he didn’t have a key and that I would have to wait until tomorrow to call the landlord. He suggested a few hostles in town to which I thanked him for. I knew I wasn’t going to any of those. I wanted a hotel not a place with traveling college students and shared bathrooms, ick.

So, I wondered through the streets of Siena. It’s getting dark now. Going on 13 hours of traveling and desperate to settle down, I make it to the center of town. I went in to a small café and ordered an espresso to calm my nerves. I needed not to panic. I need to get the courage up to ask someone where the nearest hotel is. I finished my espresso and decided to buy some chocolate and then I would ask for help. The clerk was very nice and could tell that I was frazzled. He suggested the Hotel Siena. Great! Thank you Lord, my prayers for rest have been answered. Now, I have a destination.

Only, I came to find out later that it was the only one in town, the most expensive, relaxing, and best hotel stay I’ve ever had in my life so far. Did I mention expensive. Yeah, at this point I didn’t care, 300 Euros later, tea service, dinner and a spectacular breakfast, I was ready to meet up with Massimo at the studio to let me into my apartment for the next three weeks. Basta Cosi! That’s all.

Well all, from this point on my journey was just like I was living there for years. My new found friends that I worked with in the studio took me around town to the local markets, wine cellars and cafes. Massimo and his brother Gianni are very passionate about their town history and their food. I think I gained at least 10 pounds on this adventure. I can’t wait to go back. I was never really liked New Year’s Day, but now I have new memories to last me a life-time.

I hoped all you enjoyed my experiences from Siena. If you missed any of my entries or recipes, see links below. All recipes are from the owners and artists that work in the stained glass studio where I studied for three weeks.

intro click here>>>
part I click here>>>
part II click here>>>
part III click here>>>

Sausages and peas penne
4 people

Difficulty: EASY
  Author: Anna
  • 450 gr spicy Italian sausage (if you can’t find this, use a good sausage and add little dried chilli pepper)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped up small
  • almost half a litre or 3/4 pint smooth tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp heavy cooking cream
  • 1/2 mug of frozen peas
  • grated parmesan (optional)


young red wine
  Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for about 10 mins on a low heat. Add the sausage that has been taken out of its skin and mashed with a fork. Cook for another 10 mins, turning around the sausage, so that it cooks evenly. Add the tomato sauce and a bit of water (so it is not too thick) and simmer for a further 30 mins. Add the cream and peas and cook for a further 10 mins on a low heat.The peas in this recipe can be left out if you don’t like peas. We eat it with a short pasta like penne. You can add grated parmesan when serving, although I personally prefer it without.       


Vitella Tonnata (veal in tuna sauce)
4 people

Difficulty: MEDIUM
  Author: Aunt Renata
  • 500 gr veal loin (in one piece)
  • 40ml white wine
  • 1 onion
  • 2 anchovies (4 fillets)
  • 150 gr tuna canned in oil
  • 1 tbs capers
  • 1 lemon


fruity white
  Put the veal (in one piece) in a casserole, adding wine and the all the ingredients roughly chopped (leave the lemon out).
Cover with a lid, bring to boil and let simmer for about 30 min, turning the veal over once or twice.
Turn off the heat, remove the meat and leave it to cool.
Put the liquid and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor/blender and wisk.
Replace in the casserole, turn on heat to medium and reduce a bit until you have a creamy consistency, add lemon juice, adjust with salt & pepper.
When the meat is cold cut it in thin slices and put it in a serving tray, cover it with the sauce and sprinkle with olive oil. It is better if it rests in the fridge for one day.
There are several versions of this recipe but in most the sauce is simply a base of mayonnaise to which tuna and capers and something else is added. Our version has more flavour as the meat has been cooked together with ingredients

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