Things to do in Siena

Improve your lingo and linguine at the same time

Brush up your Italian while mastering Tuscan recipes and exploring the city. Scuola Dante Alighieri is Siena’s best language and cookery school (tel: +39 0577 49533, Classes are set up so mornings are spent grasping the Italian tongue while in the evening, Tuscan cookery lessons teach you to reward your tastebuds.

Head to the vineyards on a Vespa

If you’re tired of museums and Madonnas, head for the plonk-producing hills on a classic Italian moped. The Siena Vespa Tour ( hits the Chianti trail and includes rustic lunch on a wine estate. You can even ride pillion with a guide if you think you might overdo the white wine.

Devour the pastry shop crawl

The Sienese have a sweet tooth, and the city’s pasticcerie (pastry shops) have been exporting piquant panforte (fruit and nut cake) since medieval times. They were once the preserve of nuns, who guarded their secret recipes, but now anyone can enjoy them. Nannini (tel: +39 577 236 009; and Pasticceria Bini (tel: +39 577 280 207) sell the city’s best.

Climb the stairway to Heaven at Siena Cathedral

Clamber around the rooftops and rafters of Siena Cathedral with a `Gateway to Heaven’ tour (tel: +39 577 286 300; This new tour ascends the spiral staircases of Porta del Cielo to show off its starry vaults and incredible panorama of Siena’s skyline. Other high points include the Torre del Mangia and Museo dell’Opera roof.

Catch a steam train to quintessential Tuscany

Chug off to a food fair or autumn truffle market in UNESCO World Heritage country via steam train. The Val d’Orcia, south of Siena, is quintessential Tuscany. Lap up the neat vineyards, clusters of cypresses and farms perched on limestone ridges. Treno Natura (tel: +39 0577 280 551; offers day trips, book well in advance.

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