Both medieval superstition and Renaissance vitality are integral parts of the spirit of Siena, Italy. Though it's a famous location, Siena's best food and most charming corners are easy to miss by tourists who see the gem as just another pretty segment of a larger Tuscany wine tour. For anyone with a knack for exploring, however, a whole other Siena awaits — one that's just a little bit understated, a little more thoughtful and a lot more rewarding to get lost in.

Covering Your Coffee Needs

La Bottega del Caffé

It’s just not a proper day in Italy without an aromatic espresso or cappuccino in the morning. But be vigilant: Although Italians were enjoying elaborately prepared coffee generations before the first hipster ever bought an AeroPress, some places still charge a high price for an inferior product. It’s tempting to resort to the scenic Piazza del Campo for a five-euro “campo-ccino,” but that’s totally unnecessary when La Bottega del Caffe is nestled just around the corner. There you’ll see more Italians than tourists ordering. Sip one of the cappuccinos and you’ll see why. 

Via Banchi di Sotto 39, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. Facebook

 

The Titans of Takeaway Pizza

La Trofea

If you’re looking for tasty pizza at a sit-down restaurant, you’ll find plenty of options in Siena. A trickier question is which takeaway place is worth your attention. If you consider it a crime to go all the way to Italy to eat some quick pizza by the slice, you just haven’t tasted what’s cooking at La Trofea. This place is a favorite among the many students in this university town, and you’re guaranteed to find a satisfied crowd hanging out there on a Saturday night. 

Via Rinaldini 12, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. 
+39 0577 236373; Facebook

 

For the Cool Crowd

Tea Room

via Facebook


The laid-back, lighthearted life of anyone involved in Siena’s student culture doesn’t stop at pizza. Hidden around Piazza Mercato is the Tea Room, a spot sporting both medieval magic and modern coolness. With the cozy atmosphere of a 15th-century cavern and more than 100 teas available for steeping, Tea Room is a place that oozes intrigue. This is an evening go-to, with crowds picking up after 9 p.m. On Wednesdays there’s often live music, so be sure to grab a good table.

Via Porta Giustizia 11, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. 
+39 0577 222753; Facebook

 

Magic Mozzarella 

Archivio del Gusto 

via Facebook


On a tidy street harmoniously hemmed in between Piazza del Campo and the famous Duomo di Siena is a small family restaurant serving up some of the best buffalo mozzarella anywhere. Throw in an extensive wine list, exceedingly polite servers and a serene corner of Siena as your surroundings, and there’s no better spot to try a few Tuscan favorites.   

Via Monna Agnese, 8, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. 
+39 0577 601676archiviodelgusto.it

 

A Medieval Marvel with a View to Match

Duomo di Siena

via Website


Siena's cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, but it was meant to be even more massive than it is. A nearby wall marks where the cathedral was going to be drastically enlarged centuries ago, before the plague prevented completion. Luckily, the progress the builders did make still stands, and the remnants of the construction offer a dazzling view of Siena and the countryside. Grab a ticket, brave the winding steps and steel yourself for a stunning vista.

Piazza del Duomo 8, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. 
+39 0577 286300; operaduomo.siena.it

 

Cocktails on the Piazza

Bar Manganelli 

via Facebook


We’ll admit that Siena doesn’t exactly offer a major-city-caliber scene when it comes to nightlife. But then, if you traveled here to go clubbing that's kind of on you. That said, if you seek an intricate cocktail with some fine Italian architecture to gaze at, Bar Manganelli delivers. You can count on this spot for an array of impressive desserts to pair with your drink and sparkling view.

Piazza del Campo 54, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. +39 0577 284071; Facebook

 

A Boar Eater's Paradise

La Veccia Taverna di Bacco

One of Tuscany’s most delicious local dishes is the wild boar, which is cooked so patiently that the seasoned meat falls right off the bones. When considering where to try it, keep in mind that some of the finest boar (and food in general) in Siena is being prepared in the kitchen of La Veccia Taverna di Bacco, a little restaurant tucked along one of the city's more narrow streets. Here, the atmosphere is welcoming, the wine is spectacular and the freshness of the food is nothing short of ambrosial.  

Via Beccheria 9, 53100 Siena SI, Italy. +39 0577 41299; serafinosiena.com


By Jesse Van Mouwerik

Berlin-based illustrator and columnist Jesse Van Mouwerik is an avid fan of art, whisky sours and being alive. When the aliens land, he will draw them a picture.