When the driver pulled up to a nondescript building right along the road and heartily declared, “We’re here!,” my heart sank.
By the time I arrived in Siena that morning, I’d been baked to my seat in the hot, hot sun, and my first order of business was to finagle myself and my luggage into a tiny bathroom stall and perform Cirque du Soleil-worthy maneuvers over the toilet seat to change my sweltering clothes. I’d originally planned on walking all the way from the north end of the city and through the Porta Romana (Roman Gate) to get to my hotel just outside the southern city wall, but Siena is a gorgeous medieval mess of 45-degree inclined cobblestone streets and ancient stairwells, and the line-up of cabs just outside the station was too enticing to resist.
Nearly 20 euro later, I was getting dumped at the side of a somewhat busy street while the cabbie pointed to a door marked Hotel Santa Caterina. This was it.
Once I stumbled into the warm, receptive lobby, however, my impression did a speedy 180. And by the time the bellhop handed me my antique fringed skeleton key to my room and, with a flourish, spread the shutters wide to reveal this view, I knew that the Hotel Santa Caterina and I would be very, very happy together.
TIP: Make sure to ask for a view-side (not street-side) room. They're not guaranteed, but WOW. The views are amazing. (If you end up with a street-side room, don't worry -- you can still have your breakfast every morning with a view of the valley!)