Tuscany Tuesday: A Day in Siena

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 21:39
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Hi everyone! It’s Abbi again, here to give you another installment of my yoga retreat to Italy…

Why did I decide to travel 4,000 miles to do yoga when I could have saved some serious cash and stuck to my usual sessions in New York City? Well, this view for starters…

italy view.jpg

Also, my yoga teacher, Sadie, was offering the unique opportunity to experience life like a local in one of the most beautiful parts of Italy. We were unofficially guided by Sadie’s friend, Don, who had lived in Montalcino, a village in Tuscany, for several years and knew the area well. Don was like the honorary mayor of Tuscany. Everywhere we went people shouted his name and wanted to shake his hand.

For our first day trip, we went to Siena, home of the infamous Palio horse races. Most people flock to Siena’s famous neighbor Florence, but Siena is equally fascinating, known for its beautiful art and architecture. In fact, in the thirteenth century, Siena was one of the wealthiest, most prominent cities in Europe. Don told us that there is a huge rivalry between Siena and Florence. There is long history of war between the two cities, but in 1445 the Florentines conquered the Sienese for good, a feat the Sienese remain bitter about. Today, Siena is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval cities in Italy.

While there, we had one of my favorite meals of the trip: this delicious pesto lasagna topped with a juicy slice of tomato.


For dessert, we indulged in ricotta cheese drizzled with honey, an Italian speciality, that may sound strange but tastes heavenly (I know, it looks like ice cream).


Although we probably burned off a lot of calories by walking around the hilly streets of Siena, the two sessions of yoga we did that day also helped. Here’s one of Sadie’s signature Core-Strength Vinyasa Yoga moves that we did in Italy that you can try at home:

Down Dog Splits

Begin in downward facing dog. Lift your right leg into the air. Firm your fingertips into the mat, keep hips squared and flex your foot, extend long through the heel.

dog split 1.jpg

Inhale, lift the foot higher, exhale, sweep the bent knee into your chest. Round up through your back, lift the hips, engaging your abs, and keep shoulders over wrists. Repeat 3-5 times on your right side and then switch to the left side.


This move always makes me sweat. Do a few sets on each side and you’ll feel your heart rate increase in no time! Tune in next Tuesday to hear more about my travels and to learn another one of Sadie’s calorie-torching yoga moves. See ya then!


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