Monday, February 4, 2013

Arriving in Siena and Enjoying Hotel Chiusarelli & Restaurant Bagoga Grotta di Santa Catarina

(Jan. 7, 2013) - We didn't arrive in Siena until around 9pm that evening but it was impressive to drive into the night lit city and see the ancient walls and our hotel, an old Italian villa, with welcome lights shining through the marble pillars that fronted the lobby.

Hotel Chiusarelli is housed in a beautiful old neoclassical villa built in the 1860’s. In addition to the lovely entrance with a charming garden, it is graced with high ceilings with frescos, lovely arched doorways, and has a nice breakfast room downstairs. The memory of the smell of home-made hot croissants served every morning still makes my mouth water. They had 3 different types, and it was impossible to resist the chocolate filled ones.

On the downside, the hotel has no elevator, so we were not pleased that our room was on the top floor and we had to haul our luggage up multiple flights of marble steps. However, once we reached the room, it was cozy with two beds, a refrigerator, a nice bathroom and a great view out the shuttered windows. Some of our group even got rooms with balconies.

Drinks at the Palazzo de Campo

After unpacking, we walked to the Palazzo de Campo, which took about 10 minutes from the hotel. Even though we didn’t get there until after 10pm on a Monday night, two of the restaurants/bars on the plaza were packed with locals. We decided to sit outside like everyone else, and settled into table under heaters with warm blankets. It was cozy to sit there, have a drink, and watch the world go by on the very famous Palazzo where the ancient Palio still runs every year.

Dinner at Restaurant Bagoga in Siena

One very valid complaint that our tour participants had was that we didn’t spend enough time in Siena, and worse – they didn’t get to see the city during the day. This was because the winery tours took all day, and each time we returned to Siena the sun had already set. However, the second night, we asked the desk clerk at the hotel to recommend a restaurant and he raved about Bagoga – Grotta di Santa Catarina.

Therefore, after getting lost several time and eventually having a nice local lady walk us to the restaurant, we settled into a table in a cozy dining room that was decorated with warm brick walls, arches, and painted plates.

We decided to order a bottle of Morellino di Scansano, because this was the one DOCG in Tuscany we had not yet tried and weren’t planning on visiting. It was very good, with rich dried cherry fruit, spices, and plush tannins – more like a merlot, than a sangiovese.

We started with a simple salad, but for the main course I splurged on a filet mignon in truffle sauce. The aroma of the truffles when it arrived at the table made me giddy with joy, and I was impressed with the small pieces of black truffle sprinkling the steak and sauce. However, I was even more impressed with the waiter came over and began to shave very thin slices of white truffle over the top of the steak. Yessssssss…doesn’t get much better than this. And the steak was only 20 euros!

We ended with a double dessert of two different types of cake and two glasses of the local vin santo (see photo). It was a very nice meal!

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