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Milan to Siena - recommendations along the way?

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Hello! My partner and I are driving this week from Milan to Siena, and are trying now to decide our route, and where we might stop to eat and sleep! We have four days for the drive, and we're open to lots of possibilities -- we're happy to adventure or detour. We are less interested in eating upscale (though not opposed to it) -- looking for: special, small spots? Very traditional and delicious -- or unexpected and interesting? We are definitely more interested in places that fit under the cheesy travel-guide phrase "off the beaten path," or at least, not filled with only tourists. But really, we just like to have lovely experiences, meet friendly people, taste new things, etc.

At this point we are just looking at a map and choosing roads and towns at random, so all advice is welcome! Any gems we should put on our map?

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  1. I love your idea. Italy has so many regions and each of them have their own distinctive style of food.

    Some thoughts:
    In Milan find Trattoria Milanese. It's in a little residential neighborhood well off the beaten path and has been there for nearly 80 years. Homey. Comfortable. Nothing fancy. No outrageous prices. The menu has been described as an index for a Milanese cookbook. Veal tendon salad. Minestrone. Soft polenta with braised beef stew. Brasato. Osso buco. Zampone with lentils, fried eggs. Try totally simple and traditional cotaletta ala Milanese, a veal cutlet, miraculously still on the bone, pounded thin, breaded and fried in butter and a rich, creamy pale yellow risotto ala Milanese, scented with saffron and enriched with (OMG!) beef marrow. www.trattoriamilanese.it

    In Lucca go to Gli Orti di Via Elisa. That means it is inside the gated city near the Elisa Gate. It is always crowded. Mostly Italians. The food is superb. Recommended to us by a friend whose family is from Lucca. www.ristorantegliorti.it/

    In Greve in Chiantiv - not far from Siena - there is a poorly marked, long winding road up to a teeny hamlet called Lemole where there is little but Ristoro Lemole where you will find both spectacular views and spectacular food. Go for lunch so you can sit on the terrance and enjoy the vistas. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and it was packed with families. www.ristorodilamole.it/en/

    2 Replies
    1. re: chicgail

      @ skendall87

      Perfect time to go to The Langhe in Piemonte, about two hours from Milan, or the Emilia-Romagna countryside, also two hours... or both.

      1. re: chicgail

        If you find yourself in the Parma area around lunchtime you could come off the A1 at the La Spezia exit and head north to La Porta di Felino. Or carry on to the Parma exit and try Le Viole (cucina parmigiana cooked by Friulians). Both only a few minutes from the motorway.
        Porta di Felino: http://www.laportadifelino.it/real/ho...
        Le Viole: Strada Nuova di Castelnuovo, 60, 43126 Castelnuovo Parma

      2. I would absolutely spend my first night at Antica Corte Pallavicina. Beautiful place out in the country. Amazing local product. One of my favorite spots in Italy.

        1. Parma: I had a good lunch at Ristorante Angiol d'Or, just to the left of the cathedral. Don't miss the Baptistery.

          Bologna: Lots of great food shopping in the area to the east of the Piazza Maggiore. Superb gelato at Galliera 49.

          Siena: I had a good meal at Da Divo. Here is an Italian website's food guide to the city (in Italian; search for names and addresses): http://www.dissapore.com/grande-notiz...