Siena

07/14/2010

1 Comment

 
July 12-13, 2010


Errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr,.......,Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh .......  Zoooooooooooommmm!!!  The scooters are whipping by, close enough to touch.  We are back in the city, away from the relative quiet of Cinque Terra.  We arrived to Siena in the late afternoon, after goodbyes to Jerry and Steve in La Spezia and a longish train trip with several changes.  Walking here requires more ears than eyes, as the traffic sweeps endlessly along the streets.  In the narrow claustrophobic and steep sided, narrow streets of the old city, you hear the scooters echoing off the walls behind you, growing louder and more insistent.  You instinctively move towards the walls (there are no sidewalks) and wait for the rider to pass.  We are becoming more used to it, but I still find myself cringing on occasion, especially when the scooter turns out to be a bus or delivery truck.  They all yield very little and love the speed.  I find myself wondering if these same streets and alleys were witness to a similar feeling when horses and carriages moved along them. 

 

The city is built on a hill over looking the Tuscany countryside.  The surroundings are beautiful, probably similar in terrain to what the Palouse would be if it were covered with large patches of trees, grass and greenery.  The temperatures are still warm, but we are inland now and less humid.  There is a large wall around the entire city with eight gateways, or portas.  Each is an elaborate archway with old fortifications including archery slots and peep holes.  Some still have the huge swinging gates still attached on large iron hinges. 

 

The old city itself is centered around the famous landmark, Piazza Del Campo.  This is a huge open space, anchored at one side by the chapel and a tall, narrow tower.  The piazza spreads out, slightly upward in a radial fashion patterned in brick spokes away from the tower.  Directly opposing the chapel and tower across the piazza is a fountain, and surrounding the whole curved half moon shape of the space are the tall brick buildings with rows of shutters and verandas.  Below them are cafes, restaurants, and shops.  During the day the sun beats heavily on the brick piazza.  People crowd into the shade of the tower standing or sitting, slowly moving with the shadow.  A water spigot at the fountain also attracts a crowd.  More recently, the piazza has been the scene for books of the Twilight series or as an action scene in the most recent James Bond movie, but the piazza has long been more famous for a daring horse race around it’s perimeter: The Palio.  This race is a competition among the 17 neighborhoods, or contrade.  The race is highly contested and the winner gains bragging rights and may fly their flags on the streets of their borough.  We have just missed the race, which was held the day we arrived, July 2, but we would have loved to see the spectacle.  Maybe some time.  Eves dropping at dinner the other night, however, I heard that the rooms facing the piazza were running 6000 Euros a night.  We’ll be saving a while for that one!  The contrade are all unique, each with their own flag, animal mascot, and colors.  The streets of each are decorated with these symbols making a colorful display.  There are elephants, turtles, horses, porcupines, and even snails among them.  Some of the decorations are done in iron and are very elaborate.  All in all, it keeps the eyes wandering ... even as the ears are listening to the buzz of the scooters from behind.

 

Tomorrow, we hope to climb the tower and go to the large church, the Doma.......

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The Tuscany hillsides.  This is the view from the front of the hotel.

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A Porta.  The streets run through them now.

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Slots for archery looking out from the porta wall.

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A view over the city.  The Piazza Del Campo tower in the background.

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This is a wide street.  Many are more narrow with taller sides.

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Like this ...

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Beth wants one of these giant jars of Nutella.

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These lamps line m,any of the streets.  Each is done in the symbols and colors of the corresponding contrade.

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Dog and Cat street.

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A contrade mascot.

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Some ornamentation.

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More ...

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This one is safe for now.

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View from one side of the Piazza Del Campo.

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The tower and chapel.

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The clock has no minute hand, but does give the day of the month.

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The tower at sunset.

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The fountain across from the tower.

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Thirsty.

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You see some interesting things on the piazza.

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Including new hair styles.  How about the verde afro?

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At the Gelateria, or ice cream store.

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On a side alley from the piazza.

 


Comments

W C
07/14/2010 20:51

Magnifico!!!
Wow! what a sight!
Those legs will be very strong when you get back what with all that climbing!
That dog? with the bird looks very like the Chupakabra found in Texas a couple days ago!!


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