Siena is one of the most beautiful examples of a medieval city, nothing has changed in its original structure! Breathtaking views of unique corners, magnificent palaces and impressive monuments are only part of an enchanting city!
A walking tour to get to know Siena in depth is fascinating, but it is not complete without the knowledge of its gastronomy. Today we will discover Siena and its typical cuisine!
Siena is related to famous sweets that in the past were considered Christmas sweets but nowadays many of them have been introduced in the desserts menu in every moment of the year. The first product we find in the Sienese cuisine is the “Panforte” already mentioned in the XIII century, that we could translate as “Strong Bread” or better as “ Acid Bread”, because in the past ages fruits was added to flour, water and honey, during the summer fruits inside became old and moldy giving an acid taste to this sweet bread. When spices came from the East the discovery of pepper was significant, it was considered aphrodisiac, it was very expensive and exclusive for noble people.
Pepper became the new ingredient together with other spices and the name of the bread became “Panpepato”, “Pepperbread”, now we can taste different type of this sweet enjoying the stories connected to it.
The most celebrated products are the “Ricciarelli”, typical sweets in the pastry tradition of Siena, they are like biscuits made with almonds paste, delicate and delicious! It seems they were inspired by the marzipan also imported to Siena from the East. Their origin is not so clear and many are the legends narrated to explain their shape and name, we invite you to Join our tours to taste and discover the secrets of these fantastic biscuits!
Unmissable in the Tuscan tradition the Cantuccini! Already known in the XVI century we find them on the tables of the most important families, an example? The Medici Family. Crispy and grainy they are made with flour, yeast, sugar, butter, honey, eggs and almonds. They are dry because this was a good way to conserve them for a long time, nowadays they are served with a glass of Vinsanto, “Holy wine” a special sweet liqueur wine that mixed with Cantucci will exalt your palate!
If you think to Italy and its food, there is another magic word: pasta! Each region has its own special dish, in Siena we find the Pici. They are like a kind of Spaghetti but they are thicker, made with very simple ingredients: water, flour and oil, later in time eggs were added but only for the tables of the richest families. Still today Pici are processed with the traditional bronze drawing. Their origin is really far in time and it seems that the Etruscan, millennia ago, already used this kind of dish during their celebrations. As regards their name, we have a few hypothesis: maybe a very important roman gastronome Marco Gavio Apicio or from the gesture made to knead the Pici, they are a very sticky dough, in Italian you describe this with the word: “ appiccicoso” and maybe from this word the short form of Pici. Traditionally they are garnished with different type of sauces, it depends form town to town, for sure with meat ragù, wild board sauce, mushrooms or with the typical “Aglione” a very big variety of garlic cultivated in the Chianti area, delicious and delicate to the palate, really different in flavor from the normal garlic, the best known receipt is Pici cacio e pepe with cheese and pepper a variation known and appreciated also in Rome and its Region.
Finally we certainly have to dedicate a few lines to meat, especially pork meat, the local one here is called “Cinta Senese” a kind of “wild pig” typical of the sienese land, left free to grow in the countryside, different from the traditional pink pig, the cinta senese pig is even recognizable in the medieval paintings black with a white stripe on the back, that in Italian is said “Cinta” that is belt or stripe.
It is very typical during a quick lunch or evening aperitif to have one dish with some slices of salami, ham, mortadella and Finocchiona salami, some pecorino cheese made in Siena and bread with a good glass of red wine, we have all the perfect ingredients to involve your senses and make your day a wonderful unforgettable one!
Finally the product that we cannot forget to mention is undoubtedly the truffle: this underground mushroom that grows spontaneously around Siena and gives the Sienese dishes fragrant aromas. The truffle can be white and is found mainly in November, or it can be black and is found in the spring months. There are many shops in Siena where you can buy and taste truffles and can be found, fresh, dry, in oil or in many different varieties of sauces.
Come and try the local Sienese products by participating in our food tour in Siena.
Blog created by our tour guide Marta Panarelli!