Siena 2018: Market Day & A Senese Lunch


As I’m only here in Siena for 4 days, I was pleased to discover that one of the days – Wednesday – is the weekly market day. Having walked around and looked over Piazza del Mercato behind the Campo so often, I assumed that’s where the market would be.

Fortunately, Elisa was sitting in Reception when I was going out and I told her my plan. Then I learned that the market is in fact in completely the opposite direction – off La Lizza along Viale Maccari Cesare. Elisa showed me where it was on the map and marked the route. It was only a short walk away – nowhere is far in this small city.

It’s one of those markets that sells everything – clothes, household goods, anything you can think of. Elisa had told me where the food section was so I made my way through to what turned out to be quite a small food market. It was though a very good one full of wonderful produce.


There was baccala and a fresh fish stall; a huge porchetta – pork roasted slowly over many hours, and a typical Tuscan dish.

There was wild boar salami, Tuscan fennel salami.


Local Pecorino cheese; some flavoured with black truffle


A few stalls displayed gorgeous fruit and vegetables; some fat little courgettes, as well as small long courgettes with their flowers still attached.


There were bright ripe apricots and some fresh porcini mushrooms.


I love going to a market even when I’m not staying somewhere I can cook. It’s always a delight to see some things I might not find at home and I think you can tell a lot about a place by seeing how people shop and this kind of market reflects the Italians’ passion for food.

By now it was mid-morning and I made my way back towards the Campo and Caffe Nannini on Via Banchi di Sopra. Here I stood at the bar with a spremuta – fresh orange, squeezed in front of me – a cappuccino and croissant (€5).


At the back of the shop you’ll find cantuccini sold by the kilogram, and Siena’s famous panforte, sold by slice and weight, and boxes of the city’s iconic biscuits – ricciarelli.


When it came to lunchtime I decided to try a little osteria and prosciutteria I’d passed a few times and was recommended by the B&B for simple Tuscan food.

I wanted just a snack and saw I could have a sandwich. Although not an ordinary ‘sandwich’ but ‘Ciaccia cotta a legna’ – wood oven baked flat oil bread. The local focaccia is very thin.


I chose one filled with Tuscan salami, fresh Pecorino cheese and sundried tomatoes (€7) and had a small beer to go with it (€2.50). It was wonderful, so tasty, the bread still warm as if freshly baked and with lots of filling.

Rather than have a coffee there, I walked the minute or so down the street to Caffe Fiorella, where I’d had a good coffee yesterday, and ordered a macchiato (€1). It was a perfect macchiato!


I wanted to have gelato too and headed towards a place I’d read sold some of the best ice cream in Siena. But then I was put off by seeing their pistachio was bright green, which can only mean colouring. Natural pistachio is a pale creamy brown with only the slightest hint of green. I went instead to Nannini’s gelato ‘hole in the wall’ on the Campo.


I was a little taken aback that the same size medium cup I had in Grom yesterday for €3.50 was €5 here. But that’s what you get for eating or drinking on the Campo! It was good gelato … although I actually prefer Grom.

My phone was telling me I’d walked 6.7km so I decided it was time to go back to the B&B for an afternoon siesta, but what a lovely morning it had been.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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