For more Arno Postcard Photos
For more Florence tips + tricks:
For more Arno Postcard Photos
For more Florence tips + tricks:
We didn’t intend to spend one night in Siena, but it worked out perfectly. I thought that we might visit Siena on a day trip from Florence, but the idea of staying right off the campo became irresistible! That is exactly how we ended up spending one night in Siena in transit between Venice and Florence.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you book one of these tours. I only recommend tours I have personal experience with.
One Night in Siena, Italy – Where to Stay
La Terrazza sul Campo appeared in my research, and I immediately fell in love with its location. When I visited Siena during my study abroad semester, I sat on the campo for a long time. I booked the La Citta di Siena junior suite, and a few days before we arrived, I received an email from Viola with all the details about how to find the hotel. This proved to be quite useful as our taxi driver had not heard of it. I showed him the email, and he knew exactly where to go. We had a short walk through the pedestrian zone, but the hotel was easy to find. Viola checked us in and gave us an order form for breakfast after escorting us to our room. (She delivers deliver your custom order to your room at the time you choose!)
La Terrazza sul Campo – La Citta di Siena
First of all, the La Citta di Siena junior suite is huge! It is easily the size of a small apartment. There are beautiful frescos on the ceiling and beautiful tiling on the floors, but it’s the windows that open onto the campo that captured my attention.
As far as the bed goes, it is more firm than I expected, but I slept well all the same. The bathroom is completely renovated and includes both rainhead and handheld showers. We did not experience any issues with hot water or water pressure. The amenity basket in the bathroom included every sundry you could possibly want.
The thermostat allowed us to keep the room comfortable without any issue. There is an in-room tea set that has everything necessary to prepare a cup of tea. The room includes a mini-fridge, a sitting area, a desk, and a small table. I found myself sitting at the table to work, eat breakfast, and people watch on multiple occasions. It is absolutely magical, and I was sorry that we only spent one night in Siena!
Best Overview of Siena
Siena Walking Tour – We arrived in Siena around 12:30pm, checked into our hotel, and by 1:20, we were waiting for our guide in the campo. This tour is a great introduction to the city! After learning more about the campo and its role in the Palio, our guide led us to one of the contrade museums. There, we enjoyed seeing historical Palio costumes, flags, and tapestries depicting the win of a particular contrade. It is an incredible look into the history of Siena and its “neighborhood” pride!
She showed us some beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside before following the winding narrow streets around to the Siena Duomo and finishing the tour at the basilica of Saint Maria dei Servi. We did not have trouble keeping up with our guide, but there were older people who struggled with the hills, so if you have limited mobility, this may not be the tour for you.
The Siena Duomo is incredible. There’s no other way to describe it. Thirteen years ago, I was entranced by its starry ceilings. I was no less enraptured with it on this trip, but I was surprised to see all the gold. I didn’t remember that part from my previous adventure. We took advantage of the audioguide offered by the basilica, which was great, but it was a little long for the late afternoon. I suggest doing it earlier in the day or first thing in the morning.
You can purchase tickets in the office across from the Duomo, but the audioguide is purchased in the cathedral. We did not wait in line at all in the late afternoon. Even thought we only had one night in Siena, we made a second trip early Sunday morning to appreciate it without the large crowds. I cannot even imagine how big it would have been if it had been completed.
Enjoy the Campo
I’ll admit it. We’re big square people. We love to grab meals from the grocery store and people watch. Siena (and its campo) was no exception. There’s a fantastic market to the right of the clock tower, and we made multiple trips there. We spent blue hour here, and the blue contrasting against the siena brick was gorgeous. Before heading back to our hotel for the night, we picked up gelato and made another stroll around the campo. We spent the predawn hour here. It was empty until around 10:00 on Sunday morning, so get up early to enjoy the city without so many tourists! (Oh, the daytrippers!)
We had hoped to visit the synagogue in Siena, but it wasn’t open early enough on Sunday. They have a particularly touching monument to the individuals who were lost in the Holocaust on a nondescript street in front of the synagogue. From there, we chose to follow the old city walls around Siena. This provides beautiful views and a look into daily life (it was Palm Sunday for us!). We found the entire old city to be very well preserved. I encourage you to duck into courtyards, watch for churches (there are many!), and enjoy the scenery. It is the perfect way to see more of Siena than the Duomo.
I’m going to cheat on this – I’ve only got one recommendation and it’s not actually a restaurant! We had a really terrible dinner. Because Americans don’t enjoy meat cooked the same way as the Italians, we ended up with a completely inedible bistecca. Sad!!
We did, however, discover La Proscuitteria, which was celebrating its grand re-opening. It was CRAZY. And – it is delicious. (We even hit up the one in Florence twice.) They created the most delicious open-faced sandwiches using fresh bread, olive oil, proscuitto and poppy seeds! I cannot recommend this place enough. My mouth waters every time I think about it! This is a great place for lunch, a snack, or a light dinner. (It is not a full service restaurant. It’s part of a chain, but it is tasty.
It seems like every couple of months, I come up with my own dress wish list. A few months ago, it was spring dresses for Italy. Now it’s a dress wish list of things that I wish were in my closet but don’t have a reason for them to be there, basically.
With all the sales going on this weekend, I kept hoping I might be able to snag some super awesome deals. Alas, I have expensive taste and I wasn’t ready to pull the trigger on any of these dresses yet. But, I’ll keep watching/waiting/stalking. I always find good deals when I least expect them. After all, I was able to pick up three of the dresses off my last wish list.
Disclosure: This post is completely superficial and contains shopstyle links that may earn me a few pennies towards a future adventure.
Dress Wish List: Please Go On (Further) Sale:
When I posted this graphic, I sudden realized that I have a style. Fit and flare is the name of my game. I love colors. Bold colors. Bright colors. Soft colors. I’m a color kind of girl. (I honestly think this list is inspired by the fact that I feel like everything I’ve been wearing lately is black. BOO. While I love a little black dress, I’m the kind of girl that always has colors on her dress wish list. (My sister is the exact opposite. My mom and I have been trying to teach her.)
Also – ever since my wedding dress – I’ve been in love with off the shoulder dresses. I always thought I would be a strapless kind of girl, but that’s really not my look. I love the elegance of a good off the shoulder dress. I never expected to love it as much as I do.
Dress Wish List: Need a Reason to Wear (But Don’t Have One)
As a former pageant girl, I have an affinity for evening gowns. I used to have a closet full of them. (You can never have too many formal gowns?) I rarely have a reason to wear one anymore, but if I did… these dresses would be at the top of my list. We actually came home to a wedding invitation for a black tie wedding, so maybe I can convince my husband to go… but it’s a destination wedding, so we’ll see.
Side note: I recently snagged a basic black Alexander McQueen dress on super sale at Last Call. I’m obsessed with the quality. It hangs perfectly, it sits perfectly when you sit down and doesn’t ride up, and it doesn’t wrinkle. It’s a FANTASTIC work travel dress.
Dress Wish List – Simple, Fun Summer Dresses
I feel like the most basic of the basic with my love of stripes, but these dresses just make me think of cool, lazy days on the coast (and candy stripers, if I’m being totally honest). I’ve never purchased any dresses from MDS, J. Crew, or Club Monaco, so I can’t vouch for the quality. I did find this black and white dress at TJ Maxx a few weeks ago and it’s REALLY well made. I’ve always been impressed with Milly’s quality, too.
Even though I haven’t found any dresses to buy, I’ve definitely set up alerts on all my favorites… here’s to snagging some end of summer deals (and a black tie wedding!), hopefully!
For more Venetian Night Postcard Photos (plus tips & tricks):
Now that summer is upon us and the 4th of July is coming up, I thought I’d give you some of my best tips on how to photograph fireworks! Fireworks are one of my favorite parts of any celebration, and I was able to perfect my skills when we went to Dove Mountain two years ago. (Yes, this post has been brewing in my mind for two years.)
How to Photograph Fireworks
1. Get a tripod. I bought one from Walmart for $49.99. Best $49.99 I ever spent. It came with a bag for easy carrying, and it’s probably 66″ – when it’s fully extended, I can use it comfortably (I’m about 5’10”).
2. Turn your camera to manual. You’re never to going to learn how to photograph fireworks in auto. Focus your lens and switch off auto focus. I used my 50mm, f/1.2 for these photographs, but you don’t need a super fast lens for fireworks. I just liked the way the pictures looked compared to 16-35mm f/2.8 lens.
3. Switch your ISO to 100. I used an f/8.0 and an shutter speed of 6.0 seconds. You may need to play around with it and see what works for you. 10.0 seconds was too long for me. I shot the finale at 2.5 seconds, but it was the only image that I shot at that shutter speed. Everything else was ISO 100, f/8.0, shutter speed 6.0 seconds. I didn’t use a remote shutter release at all, but you could if you wanted to minimize camera shake. You can also do the 2 second release.
How to Photograph Fireworks – Post-Processing
I edit all my photos using Adobe Lightroom, so I recommend DoubleConvex.com’s fireworks presets. These presets do a great job of bringing out the natural colors in the fireworks, minimizing the appearance of smoke, and allowing you to quickly adjust the black.
When cropping photos, consider it from different angles. Sometimes centering it looks best. Compare the vertical and horizontal. Use the rule of thirds to play with composition. Try to fill the frame. Leave a lot of black space. The beauty of learning how to photograph fireworks is that you can do so many things during post-processing.
How to Photograph Fireworks – Final Thoughts
Learning how to photograph fireworks was really easy – once I learned to set my camera and forget about it. Know that you want to try and shoot at the beginning as much as possible so that you can minimize the smoke interference, but it will show up in your pictures as the firework show goes on.
Feel free to shoot me a note if you have any questions! Let me know if posts like these are helpful. I love photography, and if I can help other people learn to love their camera, I’m happy to do so!