Beyond Pompeii: Off-the-Beaten-Path Family-friendly Attractions in Naples and the Amalfi Coast
March 14, 2014
Our founder, Shannon Kenny discusses eating and Italy with Savoring Italy!
September 10, 2014
Uno Minuto with Shannon Kenny - Tuscan Hill Towns
February 11, 2015
So many Tuscan towns to visit, so little time. I am a hidden hilltown fanatic, always entering newly discovered medieval gate with the anticipation of the treasures that await inside. One of my top tips for exploring Tuscany is to map out the famous town you plan to visit, then stop by some lesser known hilltowns nearby, perhaps scheduling your visit during a sagra, a type of local celebration, or at least on market day.
If you are visiting Siena, pencil in a visit to the nearby hilltown of Monteriggioni, a medieval fortress town built to protect Siena from Florence during the wars between the city states. The town stands proudly lost in time along the Via Cassia, looking north toward Florence, and south toward Rome, with its imposing walls and 14 turrets famously mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy, looking out along the beautiful Tuscan plains surrounding Siena—the Crete Senesi.
Inside you will find every classic feature of medieval towns. Travel back in time by visiting during the first week of July for the Festa Medievale, when the town transforms into a bustling medieval city. You even need to exchange your currency for medieval coinage when you pass through the main gate, with a drawbridge as the town was once surrounded by a moat.
And from our amica, culinary expert Heather Jarman of Sapori e Saperi Adventures, we have a great tip for rustic, authentic dining in the area, famous for raising the cows for bistecca Chianina. Heather suggests visiting the working farm of Tenuta La Fratta in Sinalunga for to experience patrician farming life as it has existed in this area for centuries. Heather explains, “As you pass down the long avenue to La Fratta, you enter a time capsule of several centuries ago. A farm frozen in history. Here they rear the famed large white Chianina cow; the last peasant farmer died only five years ago; and the Marchioness can be glimpsed tootling around in her battered station wagon. The tour of the estate includes a tasting of the exceptionally delicious beef.”