If I do this job today it is also because I studied (and ate) for years in Siena. Here, in fact, I approached the culture of food, the world of agriculture, the historical reality of the trattorias and taverns of the past. The following are in part those of my heart, where we students used to go; others are the preferred ones today, others are eternal or have changed one or more management over time. In short, an anthropologically diverse universe, where everyone, hopefully without controversy, will find their own. And if you have others to recommend, you just have to point them out: returning to this city will always be a pleasure.
Let's start from the beginning. The first gastronomic experience that you must have in Siena is absolutely the ciaccino. It is about the simple typical Sienese focaccia, stuffed with cooked ham and mozzarella (which is addictive), to be eaten hot while walking down the street. It is also found elsewhere, but this one a stone's throw from the wonderful Piazza del Campo is the mother address.
Osteria del Gatto
In this case, I'm biased, because Osteria del Gatto has always been and continues to be my favorite place in Siena. A simple place, with a handwritten menu and dishes that vary continuously, but with some fixed points such as pappardelle alla Duilio, meatballs or loin with honey. Not least the special evenings that Marco, the host, organizes: such as those of fish or my beloved ones Lebanese dinners!
Antica Trattoria Papei
This is the temple of the students, who here know they can find the certainty of local tradition at affordable prices. And then we are in one of the most beautiful spots in Siena, in Piazza del Mercato, sitting outside on the outdoor tables. Don't miss a classic from Siena (and from Papei): le tagliatelle with wild boar sauce, as well as other meat dishes.
In the historic center, a new management that proves to be a guarantee for those looking for typical Sienese cuisine, but not only. Try the huge boar meatballs, the caper leaves in brine and the various salads of the day. And all at an excellent value for money.
Taverna of San Giuseppe
For many it is the best restaurant in Siena. In any case, it is a wonderful place, obtained from a 1100s fund, with an Etruscan house dug into the tuff and staked by hand, now used as a cellar. Go there for an important occasion or in the case of students, as a reward, perhaps after taking 30 cum laude or a good grade in an exam (that's what I did).
Osteria the Skyscraper
It is the oldest tavern in Siena, which opened in 1840 continues to be a point of reference both for students and professors, as well as for tourists, locals and travelers. Here the menu cannot be read, but you look directly at the counter, and changes every day according to the products available and the wishes of the owners, former university students. The name derives from the fact that by raising your arm you can touch the ceiling of the room, since it is an extremely small place… Try it!
If you feel like pizza, no problem: in Siena there is also this. In addition to various types in the center, we advise you to leave the walls to go to this pizzeria in the Stellino area, Acqua Calda, which has been preparing a Pizza Respectable Doc (word of the various Campanians who study in Siena).
Osteria da Trombicche
A stone's throw from Piazza del Campo, this place is worth a stop, where you can find authentic Sienese cuisine, from cold dishes such as panzanella and cutting boards, to hot ones, like their unforgettable ribollita. Here you can eat almost always: lunch, snack, aperitif, dinner. In short, just like at home.
Orto de 'Pecci
Perhaps not everyone knows that Siena is so beautiful and unique that a few steps from the wonderful Piazza del Mercato, in the center of the city, you find yourself immersed in the countryside. It is the Orto de 'Pecci, where since 1983 a social cooperative deals with the inclusion of disadvantaged people, who come from marginal situations: ranging from the care and management of the park and the vegetable garden, to that of the restaurant, with a pizzeria and bar (where garden products are consumed).
Company of Vinattieri
Also in this case I am a little biased, because I celebrated my graduation lunch at the Compagnia dei Vinattieri. Hoping that nothing has changed over time, I still remember excellent le handmade tagliatelle with duck sauce, as well as other meat dishes. And it seems that in recent years they have started organizing Japanese evenings every Monday and Tuesday …
Osteria Le Logge
"If you come to Siena, go and eat at the Brunelli's." Yes, the Lodges are a real institution, a place where intellectuals, politicians, artists, gastronomes, writers have gathered for years (note some important dedications hanging on the walls). Opened in 1977 by Gianni Brunelli and his wife Laura, today it is in the hands of Mirco Vigni and Agostino La Sorte in the dining room, while in the kitchen there is chef Nico Atrigna who prepares delights.
Orto & a Quarto
In a region like Tuscany, where the cuisine is mainly meat, worthy of note is this restaurant which in addition to the classic traditional Tuscan game menu, has flanked a choice of vegetarian and vegan dishes. The location is wonderful: Orto & a Quarto, in fact, is located in an ancient agglomeration of ancient peasant houses, on the hills of olive trees just outside the city, immersed in the Sienese countryside, with a large outdoor terrace overlooking Siena.
Active as a restaurant since 1936, it is one of the oldest places in the center of Siena. For some years it has changed management, making people talk about it especially for the dishes of fish, especially starters and tartare, at affordable prices. And perhaps, in the city, there was a need.
Osteria La Sosta di Violante
At the beginning of via Pantaneto, a stone's throw from the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, is this historic tavern, much loved by students. The absolute must-try Pici, the classic Siena pasta, similar to large thick spaghetti, usually seasoned with various ragù; and the meat, especially the cut.
This name derives from a cod that is usually fried, typical of Porto Ercole, in the Argentario, where they also organize the festival in his honor. Here, however, it indicates a cuisine mainly of fish, starting with the aperitif (which seems to be increasingly popular and loved by students).
Boccon del Prete
I have to admit that I haven't been back to Boccon del Prete for years, but I still remember his ravioli with pecorino cream and its pici with almonds. From what I know, the historical owners Guido and Luciana have sold the business to two young people who worked with them, to whom they have slowly passed the trade over the years.
In a slightly hidden alley in the center of Siena, a few steps from the Piazza, a historic trattoria, complete with tables outside, where you can find traditional local dishes. You are spoiled for choice, but in any case, here too try the pici, tortellini alla Cecco (with sausage and cheese), but also the excellent penne with salmon, for a real dip in the nineties.
Osteria il Vinaio by Bobbe and Davide
As the name suggests, you can drink well here, with solo the best of local wines, which certainly are not lacking in Chianti. Not least the careful selection of raw materials and the preparation of Sienese dishes, especially those based on legumes and vegetables (produced by them).
It is not a trattoria, but it is still one of the favorite places for students in Siena, one of the meeting points, the most intimate and romantic places there is. How many couples were born or made a date here for the first time? How many friends have told each other, do you confide? Perhaps only the owner knows, that an infinite variety of teas are served in this warm and welcoming place, accompanied by delicious home-made cakes.
But the beauty of staying in Siena is also going out of the city, the classic trips out of town, where just a few kilometers away you are already in the heart of areas such as Chianti (go absolutely to Carlino, in Gaiole). In a few minutes a north, for example, you are in the small medieval village of Monteriggioni, where there is the historic Bar dell’Orso or Il Ceppo, where you can eat at all hours. Going towards Grosseto, instead, that is in the direction south, near the Terme di Petriolo (another student must), there is Casal di Pari, with that fantastic timeless place that is the Trattoria da Rosanna (its fries are unforgettable). In Sovicille, a west, Donato and Donata, of Calabrian origins, deserve a stop, a point of reference, especially for lovers of grilled meat (and not only). TO East, towards Arezzo, there is San Gusmè, where everyone has known Sira and Remino, since the sixties.
In short, what are you waiting for to pick up and leave for Siena?