Toscana, Tuscany, Toscane, or whichever way you call it, is definitely not overrated. Its sprawling hills, iridescent foliage, and history make the region undoubtedly gorgeous. A keen fascination with history leaves me wondering at every road, edifice, and plate of delicious food. 10 provinces comprise Toscana. The feud among the Guelphs and Ghibellines that instigated the infamous Battle of Montaperti along Via Cassia left Siena and Firenze divided for many years. Now, with each name heralding its own province in the 21st century, there is still some animosity. It lingers in the words and streets if you listen and observe carefully enough. The pride and quarreling over who represents the most beautiful, refined piece of Italia still causes for many glares and much closed circles.
Nonetheless, being that we should not orient ourseentirely by the behavior of ancestors, we need to appreciate what is alive and well in the present. Today, I am talking more about the Siena province, specifically the humble town Chiusi and the grand hotel, Il Patriarca. It was a nice contrast, might I add…
Only about an hour and 20 minute drive from Firenze lays Chiusi. It is a comune with Etruscan roots, verified by an excavation of tombs in the 1800s. This trip, I only ventured into the frazione, or municipality, Querce al Pino and the city center. The latter was compulsory since I knew that every Tuesday morning there was a petite market somewhere in there. I did not know exactly the location. But, luckily, I love to wander. Being that it is offseason, you can engage in the city’s true demeanor, with locals doing their shopping or walking their dogs. The bitter cold that has recently been making its way across the Europe made the visit a bit trying. But, an inviting macchiato with a sprinkle of cacao from a quiet local bar (Caffè Venezia) awakened some of my resilience to cold weather.
I ended up finding the market as it was beginning to close up an hour prior to its suggested closing time. However, the vendors were still overwhelmingly friendly. I found some long wool socks, two pairs for 5 euros. They are so incredibly soft and NOT itchy. I am talking walking in clouds type comfort. I also ran quickly to the only cheese stand there. It sold an array of pecorino from nearby Pienza, another town I wish to travel to one of these days. I could not help, but stare longingly at the types until the man offered me a sample. I fall head over heels for a nice aged pecorino cheese.
By the time we finished and snagged a few more photos (shared at the end of this post,) my fingertips were already on their way to heaven. Luckily, the hotel was only a 5 minute drive and it was about lunch time.
My boyfriend grew up vacationing at Il Patriarca. What a lucky little guy he was. During check in, we were upgraded to a junior suite, since it was off season and maybe since the owners knew him well. It was fully furnished with the princess bed of many little girls dreams.
Biological, eco friendly toiletries are also provided in the bathrooms. This was a first for me, although I did not understand why much of the wrapping was plastic if it were to be eco friendly. Maybe it is recycled? Let’s hope.
We already decided subconsciously that lunch would be eaten at the hotel . There is a Michelin star restaurant, I Salotti, which is only open for dinner. Then, there is La Taverna, where we had lunch. It can be appropriately described as a large refined trattoria serving authentic Tuscan cuisine.
Not the best photo above (and some below,) I apologize (iPhone 7 problems.) The hotel has its own azienda agricola (a farm) where it raises its own cinta senese.
We also ate there for dinner and lunch again, because one meal at La Taverna was not and will never be enough. Honest prices and quality food glue your ass to that chair, let me tell you.
I highly suggest coming to this hotel, particularly in the summer. There is a beautiful pool overlooking the Tuscan countryside, where, according to my boyfriend, you can eat their delicious food there too. Nothing sounds better to me than the tranquility of nature and a plate of pici.
It was a quick splendid vacation. I enjoyed feeling like a princess in the canopied bed and eating like a queen. Also, did I mention the homemade cakes at breakfast? I recommend the torta margarita. Like most Italian hotels, breakfast is part of the price, which includes a nearly perfect cappuccino. That is definitely all the reason to come here really. Excellent cake and coffee make all the difference.
I cannot wait to return and hopefully speak with the chef and more of the hotel staff, who definitely mastered hospitality. Claudia at the front desk was exceptionally helpful and intelligent. She speaks 5 languages. Go Claudia.
I also want to see Chiusi when the climate a little more bearable, for me. Windy and 0 degrees Celsius is not my usual. At least I sucked it up and took as many photos as my freezing fingers could bare. Here are the highlights:
Buonasera a tutti!