July 14, 15 and 16, 2010


14th

Been a busy few days.  Wednesday, we went out and hit the market in Siena.  Many venders packed along a few of the streets, most selling clothing at cheap prices.  Beth got a couple of items and I finally scored a gnocchi board!  We also picked up a cheapo knife for cutting salami and cheese on the go.  It's one we can leave if needed.  There is also the meat, cheese and vegy venders, with huge selections of all kinds of goodies.  We were impressed with the sheer size of the produce.  There were red and yellow peppers almost the size of footballs.  And grapes that were nearly golf ball size.  Quite amazing.  All kinds of cured meats too.  We picked up a "small" salami (salumi).  It was so tempting to get some of everything, but ...... 

After the market, we walked through and around the old fort (Fortenza).  The view from the walls is quite good.  There is a large amphitheater in the middle too, where they show movies and have concerts.  Evidently, jazz is very popular.

 

15th

We got up earlier to do some touristy things, which in Siena means go up the Piazza tower (Torre Del Mangia) and vist the Duomo, the large Basilica and Cathedral, which opposes the Piazza del Campo.  First off was the Torre del Mangia overlooking the Piazza.  It is a very long climb (400 steps)  to the top through very narrow stairwells, maybe 2.5-3 feet wide in spots.  They only let ~25 people up at a time, so it took a while.  Once up at the top, the view is spectacular.  A sea of terracotta tiles.  Green in the distance.  The cathedral dome and tower close by.  Far below, the Piazza del Campo.  We stayed up there longer than we were supposed to, but it was hard to leave.

 

The Duomo was next.  It too has a large tower, but you do not get to climb that one.  It has an interesting design with layers of black and white marble forming a striped pattern all the way up.  It reminds me of a lego sculpture a child would make.  Inside the cathedral you are surrounded by artistic designs at every level.  The floors are intricate mosaics of marble, the ceiling is a great mural with too much detail to seemingly take in.  In between, the columns and walls are covered with statuary and carvings.  The altar is, of course, very elaborate with deep rows of pews facing it.  To one side is a "library" housing several old hymnals.  These are large books, maybe 2 feet tall, with large calligraphy and notes, accented by elaborate color and gold leaf paintings describing various biblical scenes.  It is easy to imagine the scribes hunched over these works, carefully filling them in ... then again, maybe I've just scene too much Monty Python :- )

 

16th

 

If you can't beat them .... Today, we decided to do something different, so last night we arranged to go on a scooter tour around the local countryside.  Yes, for those who remember the Cooks, I let Beth get on a scooter again :- )  We started this morning when a van (Grandpa) picked us up at the hotel.  We drove about 20 minutes outside of the city to a small ranch.  These people also offer horseback riding, which seems to be their main gig.  There were several people there getting ready to ride.  We waited for our guide to arrive, patting the several farm dogs wandering around.  When he got there, we did a few practice runs around a small dirt field getting our "scooter legs" back.  Our guide was a young Australian expat working part time doing tours.  He also is working at a local winery.  Sorry Jess, he was a cute chicken, but .... there evidently is an Italian honey involved too.  We took off down the local highway for a bit, then pulled on to a smaller country road and wound our way up hill through Tuscany.  This was a nice break from the city, walls and heat.  We made a few stops for pictures and water at a fountain. Eventually we made our way to a small town, Castello Monterggioni, built on an old fort designed to guard Siena from the arch enemies, Forenzia (Florence).  This is a small town on a hill top, surrounded by castle like walls.  Dante was one an inhabitant.  Now, there is a winery (out guides), so we stopped and tasted (and bought) some of the wine.  They are trying to build up their label and the wines are very good.  After this, we made our way back, traveling through some busy intersections.  Did I mention that in Italy, the lines on the roads are merely suggestions!  It was a fun trip and nice get away from what we have been doing.

 

Now, we'll have to see what tomorrow brings .... Oh!  Did I forget to mention I got a haircut too?  Needed to cool  off!

 

Love you all,

Bill and Beth
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A chalk artist on the streets.  Think of all this work (he was at it all day) and ... the street cleaners come through every day ...

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A motorcycle parking lot.  Find your bike there!

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Flowers at the market.

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Flower venders.

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Pork anyone?

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Yes, that's a giant salami she's cutting.

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Jess, here's some chicken :- )

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The Fortenza wall.

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The view from the wall.

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A sculpture near the fort.

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The next day, climbing the Torre del Mangia.

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Near the entrance.

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Miles of red roof ...

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Many little courtyards too.

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Radial Piazza below.

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and us on top.

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The Duomo, where we are going next.

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It's large striped tower.

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Marble mosaics on the floor.  Most are roped off to protect them.

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Modesty.  We did not have to, but many women were given paper gowns to wear inside if they had too much exposed skin.  Quite a contrast given what is the norm in Italian society where much more exposure isn't even given a second thought.

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The dome ceiling.

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and the cathedral ceiling.

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and the walls.  This is in the "library" housing the hymnals.

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These are large books with elaborate writing and decoration.

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A painting in one of the hymnals.

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The front of the cathedral.

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Horses at the stables.

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Scooter Beth.

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Like the hair?

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On the road.

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Tuscany

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Riding

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A rest stop at a fountain.

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The taken chicken.  Sorry, Jess :-(

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Castello Monterggioni in the distance.

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The old well and church in town.

 


Comments

W C
07/16/2010 20:48

Who's that "monk" with you Beth???
Apunds like a blast! Zounds did she ever tell you about the scooter we bought for the kids in early Albuq years? Course maybe since she has matured you can trust her on one of those! Had some Huckleberry ice cream in your honor today! Hugs from us and Slurps from Wendy

07/17/2010 01:31

Didn't hear that story. There are more pics now. I got cut off last night. Hope everyone is doing well.

B&B

Lynn
07/17/2010 15:31

Gorgeous landscape....the chickens don't look too shabby either! You both look great - bravissimo!! I am greatly enjoying the armchair tour - love your descriptions and the photos....inspirational! Made a fresh fig and brie pizza last night in your honor (after seeing the lovely fruit on your Vernazza segment). Don't think I will go for the "afro verde" however :-)
love, Lynn

Steve
07/17/2010 15:36

Looks like the fun continues!!! Wish we were scootering with ya! Way to go Beth! Have finally moved beyond the jet lag :0 Enjoy!


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