Breakfast was included with the room, so I got up bright and early - because the concept of serving breakfast at anything resembling a reasonable time seems alien to most hotels around the world and any staff member who hasn't cleaned everything away by 8.30 is severely reprimanded.
Do it yourself summed up the experience perfectly: the tables were laid out nicely and there was a breakfast buffet along one wall of the delightful underground room, the roof of which was a low brick arch. The trouble was that nothing made any sense to my trained British eye. Instead of bread and a toaster, there were little factory sealed packets of crisp toasted bread which were obviously cold, each one hardly large enough for two bites, but conversely the packets of butter, jam and honey next to them were each large enough to butter the whole of Italy twice over. As it turned out, the tiny slabs of crispbread were quite nice, but it was impossible to spread anything on them without them breaking up mysteriously into hundreds of tiny crumbs.
Instead of someone to ask me what I would like to drink, there was a drinks vending machine like you'd find on a station, which was under the impression that a cappuccino consists of 98 parts frothy milk and 2 parts coffee, and that the coffee should be squirted out at a strange angle so that it goes all over the customer's trousers rather than in the same cup that it had just successfully filled with milk.
When it came to cereal, there was a nice selection of options, but after I'd filled a bowl with corn flakes I discovered that there was no milk. I briefly considered forcing my bowl into the drinks machine, asking for another cappuccino and removing the bowl quickly before the coffee arrived, but thought better of it. Besides, I had enough coffee on my legs already. Instead, I made my way to reception and asked about the milk, and after some blank stares and a conversation in which it transpired that I wasn't looking for water, bread or a clean knife, we finally agreed that I could have some milk. She brought it to my table, looked at me funny as I poured it onto my cornflakes, and indicated that, in Siena, they would normally have their breakfast cereal covered in yoghurt. She then left, tufting audibly at the audacity of the stupid British tourist that had made her walk all the way to the fridge for cow juice.
Just as I was leaving, another member of staff came in, helped himself to cornflakes, and was apparently highly surprised and delighted to find he could put milk on them this morning.
About Simon and Burfords Travels:
Simon Burford is a UK based travel writer. He will be re-publishing his travel blogs, chapters from his books and other miscellaneous rantings on these pages over the coming weeks and months, and the entry on this page may not necessarily reflect todays date. You can check out his travel site at www.burfordstravels.co.uk.
Simon is also currently running a science fiction movie project to raise money for Cancer Research UK, following the loss of his parents. You can lend your support and read the script for free at www.rewindthemovie.net