Swedish Siena resident Tina Johannson shares her address book. See this guide to all the entries in our travel writing competition that have been published so far.
As a wine lover, who hasn’t dreamt of living in the romantic Italian countryside with vines growing all around you and good wine wherever you go? As a sommelier from the colder part of Sweden, I know I have. There’s something about the food, the wine and the sun that just gets you. With this said you can imagine my joy when I got a job offer in Siena, a small city right in the heart of Tuscany. I was offered a job here teaching about the food and wines of Tuscany and at the same time I ended up falling in love with Siena as well as rediscovering Tuscan wine.
The beautiful and charming hilltop town of Siena may be best known for Il Palio, a horse race held twice every summer between the different parts of town. Although it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, it was not at all what drew me here. It was the wine. In Siena you actually do have vines growing all around you seeing as you’re in the Chianti region. But good wine wherever you go turned out to be a fantasy made up by a wishful Swedish girl.
Sure – you’ll find wine in abundance in Siena, but really good wine is harder to come by. However, since the town is so popular for culture (and horse races), it attracts visitors during summertime meaning it’s not at all impossible. See below for the pearls no wine lover should miss in this cosy little town.
Salefino is one of Siena’s more creative restaurants. Even though it has roots deep down in the Italian cooking culture (as one would hope), they are not afraid of shaking things up and trying new things. The menu is ever-changing and the atmosphere relaxed. The wine list is mainly Italian with a wide range of regions from both bigger and smaller producers, and all fairly priced at that. It’s a must-go and in my honest opinion Siena’s most exciting restaurant right now.
Le Logge is a traditional restaurant in the centre of Siena, the typical osteria with antipasti, primi, secondi and something sweet to end the evening with. They offer a bigger range of wines by the glass, some of them from older vintages or more expensive bottles, which is something to take advantage of here. Besides wines by the glass they have an amazing wine list with a big focus on Tuscany with back vintages of many more or less well known producers in the area. Ask to see the wine cellar; it’s worth it!
Vineria Tirabusciò is a small and homey type of wine bar with amazing people behind the bar. Focus here is on so-called natural wines from all of Italy, but also craft beer from Tuscany that will change what you think of Italian beer. Wines by the glass change almost daily. Read about them on the blackboard or ask the kind staff. Extra tip: try the antipasti platters with artisan cheese and prosciutto from around Siena and Tuscany. You won’t regret it.
Un Tubo is owned by the same people running the restaurant Le Logge, meaning they have the same extensive wine list with Brunello di Montalcino from the 1980s to mention one of many highlights. However, Un Tubo is not a restaurant, it’s an underground jazz bar with focus on live music and drinks. This means that wines by the glass are not always that exciting but please do go here. The bottle list is something else and the sommelier is very knowledgeable and welcoming.
Cantina del Brunello di Montalcino is Siena’s best wine shop. There are quite a few in town but many of them are too small, with few exciting labels on offer or bottles way overpriced. This cantina has a great range of Tuscan wine, especially Brunello di Montalcino as one might guess from the name, and a very passionate owner who is happy to help.