Adventures in Italy: Siena (Letters to Juliet Tour)

With two days left of my epic Italian adventure, I woke up excited to complete the final part of my Letters to Juliet tour!! In Verona, I managed to find most of the spots where the movie was filmed; now, all that was left were a few places in Siena where Sophie, Claire, and Charlie stayed in a hotel, toured the city, ate gelato, and, ultimately, found Lorenzo!! Of course, in true Hannah-rose fashion, I discovered too little too late that the vineyard used to capture Lorenzo’s entrance was actually filmed in Caparzo, located an hour outside Siena. Unfortunately, the train times made it impossible to squeeze this last destination into my schedule. Thankfully, after calling Caparzo, I was assured that most of the movie was shot at their sister vineyard, Borgo Scopeto Wine & Country Relais, where I was heading.

Borgo Scopeto Wine & Country Relais

Located twenty minutes outside Siena’s city center, the Borgo Scopeto Wine & Country Relais is an incredible five-star resort overlooking a panoramic Tuscan landscape. Separated from the busyness of city life, the resort invites peace and rejuvenation as you drive up the cypress tree-lined driveway and enter the reception area.

Upon arriving, I was welcomed by Matilde, a guest relations rep, for a private tour of the property (yes, I’m that nerdy!). With great enthusiasm, Matilde walked me through the grounds, sharing Borgo Scopeto Relais’s history. The resort is a restored 13th-century hamlet that honors the countryside surrounding it and organically incorporates nature. With gardens providing fresh produce and multiple trails leading through vineyards and secret gardens, it’s easy for guests to get swept away with the environment and never want to leave. It is truly a spectacular location! If I could afford it, the Borgo Scopeto Wine & Country Relais would be the perfect getaway to unwind, write, and savor God’s incredible creation.

Of course, it’s also a great place to fangirl over your favorite movie, which I did! As I walked into the pool area, I could picture Charlie diving into the clear water and him and Sophie sharing their first kiss on the adjacent lawn. My excitement clearly amused Matilde as she led me into Sophie’s Suite (which the resort continues to call it). A few changes had been made since the movie was filmed in 2009, but everything was in the same place, making it easy to imagine Claire brushing Sophie’s hair at the vanity and Charlie leaning against the doorway trying to steal a glance at Sophie’s article. The whole thing felt so surreal! If I weren’t so self-conscious, I probably would’ve reenacted the scenes or taken a few more videos, but I think Matilde thought I was strange enough, haha.

The icing on the cake would’ve been finding the balcony from the last scene (my favorite part), but I learned it had been a fake construction. One day, I’ll visit Caparzo to see the property where, spoiler alert, Claire and Lorenzo get married, but the day was still young, and Siena was beckoning me to explore her ancient streets!

Mission Accomplished

With my heart full, I thanked Matilde for her patience and time before hopping into a taxi to explore Siena’s sloping streets and find the remaining places used in Letters to Juliet. I’d watched the second half of the movie on the train, so it was easy to recognize the streets and landmarks.

The grand finale of my Letters to Juliet tour was eating gelato outside the Battistero di San Giovanni, where Sophie and Charlie had a gelato fight. Since there was no gelateria near the Battistero, I had to find one (which was surprisingly difficult) and run back to the spot before the gelato melted all over my hand.

Mission accomplished, I triumphantly snapped a picture before sitting on the Battistero’s steps to marvel at my surroundings and plan where I would go next since my quest was complete. I had done it! I had fulfilled my Letters to Juliet dreams and ticked another thing off my bucket list! Yes, I missed a few places, but with all the planning and traveling I’d accomplished in my seven-day quest, I’d say I did a pretty good job.

CiocoSi Chocolate Festival

Siena has inspired many films and literary works beyond Letters to Juliet — Lisa T Bergren’s River of Time series is the most notable for me — so I was excited to see more and learn the history of this famous city.

Throughout Siena, you’ll find statues of a she-wolf allowing human boys to suckle her teats for milk. According to local legend, “the city of Siena was founded by a pair of twins named Aschius and Senius. When they were very young, their wicked uncle murdered their father and usurped his throne, so they fled into the forest on two horses, one white and one black. There the two young boys survived by being suckled by a she-wolf, and when they grew up they founded a city called Siena, after Senius; they took the she-wolf as the symbol of their city, and the colors of the horses as their banner.” (source) Whether or not this story is true, finding the she-wolf statues dotted around the city became a fun scavenger hunt.

Returning to the Piazza del Campo (main square), I browsed the kiosks selling varieties of chocolate for the annual CiocoSi Chocolate Festival. Every year from March 21 to 26, the festival is hosted in the Piazza, offering classes, exhibitions, and endless choices of chocolate delicacies — figurines, drinks, etc. I would’ve bought a few pieces for my family if it weren’t such a hot day. Instead, I savored the rich chocolate aromas filling the Piazza and enjoyed watching the locals and tourists delight in the festivities while I grabbed a pizza at a nearby restaurant.

Pro Tip: Don’t eat at the restaurants lining famous landmarks, as they are often tourist traps! I didn’t know Italy could make a bad pizza…

Palazzo Pubblico / Torre del Mangia

At Lisa T Bergren’s recommendation, I bought a ticket to the Palazzo Pubblico to tour the museum and climb the Torre del Mangia (bell tower). Waterfall (book one of the River of Time series) was the first Christian fiction novel I read as a teen, and it propelled my love of reading to new heights. While I’d hoped to reread the series before my trip, it was still amazing to explore the Palazzo and imagine Gabi and Lia walking through the same halls after falling through time and landing in the 14th century.

Constructed in 1297, the Palazzo Pubblico is a palace at the center of Siena, historically used as a town hall. With frescoes, paintings done rapidly with watercolors on a wall or ceiling, adorning most of the rooms inside the Palazzo, the images brought history to life with their lifelike qualities. Though half the Palazzo’s museum was closed for reconstruction, I enjoyed the open exhibits, admiring the artwork and items dating back to the 1400s.

Tuscany is one of the most beautiful regions I’ve visited. As I reached the top of the Torre del Mangia after climbing its 300+ steps, my shaking legs were forgotten as my breath hitched at the landscape before me. The clear skies allowed me to have a bird’s eye view of Siena’s incredible perch on top of the hill. Looking down at the Piazza, the people and kiosks looked like figurines. The Duomo di Siena, though significantly smaller than its younger sister in Florence, also stood out in the sea of brown, orange, and yellow buildings.

Breathing in the fresh Tuscan air, I thanked God for blessing me with this Italian adventure for the millionth time. My second week in Italy might not have been how most would choose to spend their Italian holiday (and I wouldn’t recommend rushing from one city to the next as I did), but it was the perfect antipasti (appetizer) to wet my palate for more Adventures in Italy to come. For now, it’s back to Florence for one more day of sightseeing and shopping before heading home to Israel.

Boarding the train, Siena’s farewell echoed with a she-wolf’s howl, “Owooooo!”

“Ci vediamo” (See you again), I replied.

Pictures From My Adventure With Screenshots from “Letters to Juliet”

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