Everybody we talked to, experienced travelers as well as locals, told us Siena was a must. Seeing as we were in Rome and we were heading up North to Florence, Siena was on the way. Located in the centre of the Tuscan region, it made it very possible to make a pit stop. We chose to stay a little more in the countryside for a total of 2 nights. We arrived in the late afternoon. Everyone else in the bed and breakfast had cars except us. There were no proper sidewalks and we were about 4 KM away from the town centre – hmm – was being in Siena without a car going to be possible?
Originally, we had planned on taking the train from Rome to Siena but a quick research in the wonderful world of Google told us otherwise.
The train: 1) cost more; 2) takes longer; 3) has a connection; 4) stops a little outside Siena’s city centre
The bus is a cheaper alternative and is direct, cutting some travel time. Also, it usually makes 4 stops in total in Siena, so make sure to know where you’re getting off. If you’re staying in the centre, get off at Piazza Gramsci (bus station). Getting off at the train station is a little more outside (which would’ve been our best option seeing as we were staying 10 mins out) but you live & you learn and then you write blog posts. 😉
We found a charming Bed & Breakfast that was located approximately 10 minutes away by car from the town centre. Even if we didn’t drive, we opted for that location as staying outside sometimes is where the beat is a little more laid back and you truly get a sense of how the locals go about their day. At the gate, we met Andrea, the owner of the B&B and the villa. He asked if we came by car & when we said no. He replied: ok.
Siena without a car can prove to be quite tricky. There are no proper sidewalks to walk on from outside the city and into the centre. As Andrea told us, speed limit is not very high but cars tend not to respect it so much, especially at night. Even if we could’ve walked it from the villa, he advised us not to and that the bus was a cheap and safer option.
He even offered to drive us the following day to Porta Romana. Getting back would be easy as there are designated areas near the various portas to get on a bus or taxi. The difficult part, according to Andrea, is remembering which Porta is yours. ”Don’t forget Romana. People get lost. Porta Romana!”
For our first night, Andrea suggested for us to have dinner at a restaurant close to the villa.
”Walk out onto Strada Regionale 2, turn left and walk 500 metres. On your right, you will see a restaurant called Bar Al Tocco, it’s good. Try it.”
The waitress did not speak a word of english which added a whole lot to the experience. From the little bit of Italian I learned from Giacomo, I was able to understand most of the menu and what the waitress was saying. We started with a glass of wine. Do you know what’s so great about Italy? Whatever house wine they serve, thus far, has never disappointed. We followed with a caprese salad that was served in the tastiest of sauce – it was delicious. So much so that having been in the comfort of my own home, I would’ve finished it off like a soup #NoShame. The menu had a vast selection of pizzas so we figured, they must be good! We went for the classic: Margherita. A gigantic portion and the freshest ingredients; again, like the wine, never disappoints. Already Siena was proving to be a great stop. We did not finish off our meal with a dessert; Giacomo wouldn’t be impressed as he had told us previously: ”You can never finish your meal on salt taste, must be sweet!”
The next morning, breakfast was being served in a dining room outside the villa. Andrea asked us what time we would be getting up and how we liked our coffee. #Respect. Yogurt, coffee, orange juice, cold cuts, cheese, bread, egg and pastries were on the menu. A full-on breakfast to kick off the day.
So what’s there to do in Siena? If you love history, you will be pleased! Walking the streets of Siena is just like walking back in time. My number one suggestion would honestly be to tell you: leave the map and get lost in the streets. Get a sense of how people lived and are living. Stop to enjoy a charcuterie & cheese board. Indulge in a fresh pastry. Warm up with a glass of wine (or 2)…it truly is a-maze-ing – see what I did there? *insert sly smile emoji*
Following a mega storm, the sky was still gray & the air was cool but that didn’t stop us from wandering back into medieval times…For a glimpse of our time, check out this short video on my YouTube channel
So in conclusion, the answer is yes. Yes, Siena without a car is possible. Yes, Siena is worth it. Yes, I would go back to the heart of Tuscany…in a heartbeat