Italy Day Four (Part 1):
Believe it or not, there is a benefit to waking up before 7 am on vacation: You get to see so much more amazing stuff! Just don’t try to convince me of that when my alarm goes off at 5:30. Not. Fun. Also, please ignore my frizzy tour bus hair that will make appearances throughout the rest of the trip.
We left Perugia at 8 am (ugh!) and arrived in Siena in the early afternoon. Our tour guide, Tony, told us about the annual race, the Palio di Siena, that takes place in the town center every year. The different districts all nominate a horse a jockey to race around the Piazza del Campo on bareback in what looks like a wild and crazy horse and people mosh-pit to me, but it was interesting to see where the event has happened for hundreds of years. It was pretty hot standing in the sunshine, but we were having fun – and I love the happy Italian walking behind Ruby.
The Piazza is a giant clam shell with a fountain at the top and city hall at the bottom. It is the center of the city and the business district. The tower is an engineering feat, since the top of the tower weighs significantly more than the base.
The fountain also was a drinking fountain with delicious water. We saw these all over Italy – fresh drinking water flowing out of fountains (made my water-crisis-Californian heart cringe). At first I was kind of leery drinking water out of random water fountains (don’t drink the water!!!) but locals walk up, cup their hands and take a refreshing drink constantly and this was the first time I gave it a try. Also, I was already growing tired of paying the equivalent of three dollars for a bottle of water.
Our guide took us through several historical buildings and then we arrived at the cathedral. Impressive, to say the least. There he pointed out several architectural features and the unfinished wing of the cathedral – where cars now park. Click here to hear a video of the bells at noon.
Houston and I opted to buy an additional tour of the cathedral during our free time, but the guide took too long and we had to leave before it was over. The cathedral is covered inside and out with black and white marble. It is incredible to see – like a giant chessboard.
The floor of the cathedral is covered with beautiful mosaics that are generally protected, but we were able to see a few of them. Unfortunately, we didn’t take any photos. Oopsie.
We ate a yummy pizza lunch, and gelato of course, and then it was time to leave. As it was with Assisi and Perugia, the tour bus can’t drive into the city (teeny tiny alleys and streets) so we had a pretty healthy walk out of the city. Our departing view was the functioning mental hospital in Siena – located to the right of the city gate.
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