merlo%20bianco THE DAYS OF THE BLACKBIRD   January 29TH/30TH/31ST

Hello everyone!

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie is curious to know how you will spend the next few days (January 29th/30th/31st ) called the “days of the blackbird”.Surely you know that by tradition these three days are considered to be the coldest of the year,but do you know why?

The legend tells that once January had only 28 days and every year it enjoyed to harass a beautiful white plumage blackbird. Indeed, it seems that whenever the little bird came out of the nest to find food,January sent on Earth icy weather and storms of snow.
One day,before the arrival of January,the cunning blackbird collected so many food that it was never needed to go out and could stay warm in the nest for all 28days of the month.January started feeling teased and asked February for three of its days so when the blackbird had came out,January would have been in time to send on Earth cold and frost. When the blackbird came out sure that icy weather was ended, January sent a storm of snow that the bird was no longer able to reach its nest and it was forced to shelter in a chimney pot. The poor bird remained there for three days and when it came out, its white feathers had become dark because of the soot….since then it is said that all blackbirds born with black plumage.

Here at Borgo Grondaie we have a beautiful fire place….you may visit us and check our blackbirds!

An old proverb says that when theese days are really cold, spring is not so far away…. So we hope and for now we wish you good freezing !!!


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Hello everybody!  Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie  wants to share with you a simple but very tasty recipe directly from the Tuscan tradition i.e. “pici or spaghetti with cheese and pepper” (from the book “I Quaderni di Cucina Senese” by Andrea Maestri).


First, we explain what is pici: it’s nothing more than a kind of pasta like fat spaghetti made with flour and water. Mix the flour with warm water and a pinch of salt to make a paste quite firm. Remove from mixing small pieces of paste and extend them quickly with your hands until they take form of spaghetti. The diameter should be about 3 mm. However, for those who do not want to engage in the production of home-made pasta, we recommend using the spaghetti of a measure rather large.

For the sauce: after cooking pici or spaghetti in salted water, drain the pasta “al dente”( neither overdone nor uncooked) and add extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, oregano, parmesan or pecorino and a spoon of cooking water. Mix well and … Enjoy your pasta !!!

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After the recipe for Ricciarelli, Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie  is happy to share with you the recipe for Panforte, the symbol of pastry of  Siena. (From the book “I luoghi del gusto di Siena”).
The history of Panforte refers back to medieval times when the trade of spices started and this cake can be considered a direct descendant of another kind of cake called “ panpepato”. The name of panforte (strong bread), refers to those sweets made from bread and honey, which were enriched with dried fruit and the moisture in it combined with sugars resulted in an acidic strong  taste. With the introduction of spices coming from Asia, the preservation of the gingerbread was improved and extended. The spices spread to monasteries where religious experts prepared the first spiced bread in their fully equipped pharmaceutical laboratories. Over time, the tradition of the production of panforte by pharmaceutical plants was strongly maintained so that, starting from ‘nineteenth century, from the oldest pharmacies in Siena derive the confectionery industry today.
The recipe has remained almost unchanged over the centuries, with some nice variation that gave birth to the black panforte that includes cocoa and panforte Margherita with a more delicate taste and covered with powdered sugar instead of pepper; this one is dedicated to the Queen Margaret of Savoia on a visit to Siena in 1879.

Here’s the recipe for 10 people:
- 60 g of flour
- 150 g of honey
- 100 g of sugar
- 200 g of peeled and lightly toasted nuts (almonds and hazelnuts)
- Spices: an abundant sprinkling of cinnamon, a pinch of pepper, a sprinkling of nutmeg

- 200 g of candied citron
- 100 g candied orange peel

Cook together sugar and honey with a little ‘of water, when the sugar is melted add the candied fruit (cut into small cubes) and bring to a boiling point, then pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the flour, a little sugar, spices and chopped nuts. Mix well and pour the mixture into a round baking pan lined with flour. Bake for 20 minutes at 180 degrees. Allow to cool and dust the surface with icing sugar.


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At Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie we like ricciarelli cookies, a typical Sienese delicacy made of almonds to be enjoyed especially during the Christmas season, but still very good all year round!

These delicious cookies seem to have origins in the Middle Ages, related to the production of marzipan that people from Siena certainly knew by the Crusaders returned from the East, and even the name seems to derive from “arricciatelli” to remember the shape of the slippers of the sultans of Orient.
This excellence got, in 2010, by the European Community , the IGP certification according to which the production phase must take place in a limited geographical area, in this case the territory of Siena.
Hoping to please all food lovers or just curious, here are the recipe for Ricciarelli (directly from the book “The places of taste in Siena”). Enjoy your cookies !!!


-          1 kg sweet almonds

-          A small amount of bitter almonds, according to taste.

-          1,5 kg sugar baking powder

-          Ammonium bicarbonate (3 g for every kg of dough) or baking powder (5 g for every kg of dough)

Grind the almonds, mix together all ingredients and knead until the paste is smooth and uniform. Weigh the paste and add baking powder as indicated. Shape into small lozenges and dust with powdered sugar. Bake on wafer or waxed paper for about 10 minutes in a 200°C oven.

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Soon it will be Christmas and we are all accustomed to the image of the tree decorated with shimmering lights and many gifts at its feet. However, who really knows the origin of this tradition? At Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie we want to learn more about it.

We know that the image of the tree as a sacred symbol of life is a pagan theme known to all cultures in the ancient world, in the Middle Ages and only later assimilated by Christianity.
Christmas coincides with the period of the winter solstice and many civilizations of the ancient world considered this a prodigious event as in Egypt and Syria, where the victory of light over darkness was celebrated (in fact during the solstice the days get longer and announce the return of spring and therefore of life). In some traditions of northern Europe it was usual to burn a tree (a pine or fir tree) and the sparks represented the light of the days to come. Even the druids, ancient priests of the Celts, began to worship the trees during the winter solstice, and especially the fir, an evergreen tree, became a symbol of perpetual life. During the Middle Ages, on December 24th in Germany there was a game of Adam and Eve, a religious game where large fruit trees (symbol of abundance) were hoisted in the squares and asked to recreate the image of Paradise, just later the trees fruit were replaced with fir trees and it was also in Germany that instead of the fruit the first decorations in blown glass appeared. For a long time the tree tradition was typical of the north European areas. In 1816, this tradition began in Vienna at the behest of Princess Henrietta von Nassau-Weilburg, while in France it was thanks to the Duchess of Orleans in 1840. In Italy, the practice is widespread thanks to Queen Margaret in the second half of the nineteenth century.


Nowadays, during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II a new tradition has been started, the tradition of setting up a large Christmas tree in the heart of Catholicism that is St. Peter’s Square in Rome. A Catholic interpretation is the one who wants the decoration of the tree as the celebration in remembrance of the wood of the Cross that saved the world … the lights symbolize the light that Jesus brings into the world and the gifts are the representation of Jesus ‘generosity.


This is what history tells us…. then the legends are quite different:


- The first legend positions the tree in the Garden of Eden as the tree of life, and when Eve plucked the forbidden fruit the tree leaves withered and became pine needles until the birth of Jesus.
- A second one tells about Adam who, running away from Paradise, brought with him a small branch which later became the fir tree that was used for the Holy Cross.
- And even a story of a child who was lost in the forest and not knowing how to get home, took refuge at the foot of a fir tree that lowered its branches to protect it. In the morning, he realized that the snow and ice, fallen on the branches during the nights, had created many decorations shining to the sun.

- Another legend is connected to the miracle of S. Boniface, who came across some heathens, worshiping an oak tree; they were preparing the sacrifice of a little prince. St. Boniface felled the oak and in its place an evergreen fir, symbol of eternal life, appeared by miracle.


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THE MARKET IN THE CAMPO SQUARE (Piazza del Campo). December, 15TH and 16th 2012. SIENA.

 THE MARKET IN THE CAMPO SQUARE (Piazza del Campo). December, 15TH and 16th 2012. SIENA. 

On December, 15th and 16th  in Siena and more precisely in the heart of the city, in the beautiful Piazza del Campo, an extraordinary event will come back: “the market in the Campo Square,” a real modern market that, both in terms of products or the arrangement of the sales counters (which will be a copy of those of the past), will propose an image of what the city market at the time of the Republic of Siena was. Two whole days to admire and taste the tradition of Siena with the quality of today.



In the thirteenth century, the “big market”, which took place once a week in the square, was the main source of supply but also a place of social relations and important area of trade. The small farmers from the countryside and craftsmen were so numerous that at some point it became necessary to reorganize the market to make it less chaotic adopting a specific placement that will be reproduced during the event, in fact there will be a food area (once the queen of the market was the “treccola” , she who sold fruits and vegetables, legumes as well as milk and cheese, poultry and game) and another area dedicated to crafts (among the most known craftsmen were tanners, baskets makers, cobblers, sellers of barrels). In today’s market it will be possible to find other excellence of the territory as producers of wine, saffron, bakers, goldsmiths, bookbinders and many others. Some craftsmen will perform live their creations and, as once part of the square was reserved for entertainment, games and activities will be organized to involve also the children.
On the occasion of the event it will be possible take guided tours at a cost of € 5.00 (free for children up to 11 years) to discover places of taste which ,over time, have distinguished Siena. Departure for the visits is scheduled at 11a.m. and 4p.m. from the information desk.


Some restaurants in the city will take part in the event offering typical food:


- ALL’ORTO DE PECCI (“pici” with garlic) pici, gnocchi and pappardelle are typical kind of pasta  

- CASATO ENORISTORANTE ( “polenta” with wild boar) polenta  is cornmeal mush

- FONTE GAIA ( red gnocchi with potatoes and beetroot served with black cabbage and sausage)

- FORI PORTA (sausages and beans with” polenta” and mushrooms)

- GROTTA DEL GALLO NERO (“pici “with wild boar and wild boar stew)

- BAGOGA (pork stew)

- IL RIALTO (braised beef cooked with chianti wine with mashed potatoes)

- IL BANDIERINO (“pici” with cheese and pepper)

- LA BIRRERIA (pasta with “cinta senese” pig sauce)

- LA BUCA DI SAN PIETRO ( “pici” with black cabbage, crumbs and pecorino cheese)

- LA CHIACCHIERA ( stew with potatoes)

- LA FINESTRA ( wild boar with grape and apples)

- LA MOSSA (“senese” tripe)

- LA SPERANZA (wild boar)

- MILLEVINI (braised beef with “polenta” pie)

- MUGOLONE (chicken with “sangiovese” grapes or wild boar in “ dolce forte” sauce)

- OSTERIA BABAZUF ( vegetable soup with meat balls)

- TRATTORIA DELL’OSTE MEZZO AL GIUGGIOLO ( “pappardelle” with wild boar sauce).


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Cappella Sistina 586x390 THE FIFTH CENTENARY OF THE SISTINA CHAPEL. ROMA.Vatican Museum.

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie makes best wishes to the Sistina Chapel for its wonderful 500 years! Five centuries later, this masterpiece is still admired by 5 millions people a year with peaks of 20.000 tourists a day. The Chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary of the Assumption, owes its name to the Pope Sisto IV who wanted to build an opulent room to accommodate the meetings of thePapal Court. When, in 1481, the architectonic structure was completed, famous artists such as Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, started painting the side walls of the Chapel where, from the bottom to top, it is possible to admire frescoes that look like tapestries, Moses and Jesus’ life stories (Old and New Testament) and representations of the martyred Popes. It was up to the successor of Sisto IV, Pope Giulio II, to complete the decorations for which he called Michelangelo Buonarroti . At first Michelangelo, who already had produced at that time very important works like “The David” and “The Piety”, was hesitant because he considered himself a sculptor and not a painter, but then he agreed  to fresco the Vault of the Chapel. He started his masterpiece in 1508 working on a scaffold 20 meters(65 feet) high. He painted a 40 meters(131 feet) long and 13 meters(42 feet) wide surface always having his head facing upward. On October, 31st 1512 Michelangelo “gave his work back” to the Pope Giulio II who inaugurated the Chapel during the Vespers dedicated to the All Saints Day. All the frescoes painted by Michelangelo reproduce stories from the Old Testament as the “Genesis” , the “Creation of Adam and Eve”, the “Original Sin”, the “Fall fromParadise”. The most famous is without doubt the Creation of Adam (who does not have in mind the image of the hand of God that lets the Adam’s one going of ?). From 1536 to 1541 Michelangelo also completed the decoration of the wall behind the Altar representing the “Last Judgement”. The Sistina Chapel has undergone an important renovation completed in 1994 which has brought to light very bright colours so much to completely change the idea (which once thought) that Michelangelo was interested in drawing than in colours.

 Mr. Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, reminds us that this place so full of charm, both for the magnificence and for what it represents ( it’s the place where cardinals elect Pope), is nevertheless exposed to hazards such as dusts, temperature and the carbon dioxide emitted by the millions of visitors. That’s the reason why it is hoped that in 2013 the dream of using a new air conditioning system (that allows to break down polluting agents, dusts and controls humidity)  becomes reality.        

 We really hope so… least for the next 500 years!!!


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Oneglass is an Italian company that has had a wonderful idea: a single-dose pocket size pack of wine (100 ml).

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie was intrigued and wanted to know more about this novelty.


For the first time a 100 ml  innovative packaging: lightweight, unbreakable and pocket-size…easy to use and to carry wherever you go.

This kind of packaging, that maintains all the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, is made of paper (75%), polyethylene (20%) and aluminium (5%); that’s why it can be entirely recycled after use.

Considering the lower weight and reduced risk of breaking compared to a classic bottle, there are many possibilities of use: large shipments, special occasions such as day-trips or picnic; lunch break, canteen, self-service, wine tasting.

It also avoids waste because 100 ml is the right amount for tasting wine without having to open a bottle.

Oneglass sells four kinds of wine: two types of white ( Pinot Grigio and Vermentino) and two types of red ( Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese ).

 At the Wine Business Summit ( platform for the exchange of new ideas and business for people in the wine industry coming from different backgrounds)  at the Palais du Vin in Bruxelles on January 19th, 2013, Oneglass is in competition for the best innovative company in the wine industry. The winners will have the opportunity to raise their profile and give more visibility to their product.

If you want to express your preference you can do it by voting on:



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Along the freeway Florence-Siena, one wonders what that new and futuristic building, that we find in Bargino village (near San Casciano Val di Pesa), could be.
It’s the new Antinori’s winary, the result of an ambitious project strongly wanted by Antinori’s Family, who produces wine from 26 generations and, after five centuries, moves its headquarters from the center of Florence to the heart of “Chianti Classico”.The cellar was built excavating in a hill and then covering the building with the ground.
On the roof, for didactic purposes, a vineyard was planted that brings together all the varieties of the Chianti vineyards, even those almost forgotten.
Inside the building there are three aisles 75 meters long, where, at a constant temperature of 17 degrees, barriques and barrels rest for a potential production of two and a half million bottles per year.

In addition to the winery and bottling area, the building consists of a museum, wine tasting areas, one restaurant, 250-seat auditorium, offices, and one wine store.

The project of the new winery (that has great respect for the Tuscan environment and landscape) is unique because combines architectural innovations and modern technologies of wine making with the Antinori’s family tradition.

Opening is scheduled for February 2013.

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Halloween at Meleto Castle

meleto3 Halloween at Meleto Castle225px Jack o Lantern 2003 10 31 Halloween at Meleto Castle

Come and experience the unsetting atmosphere in a real castle to attend a dinner on the main floor of the Castle of Meleto only by candlelight and to follow … a SURPRISE for all ages visitors.

For more information

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