This morning we drove to the town of Siena which is about 40 miles from our house. We parked in the “lot” associated with the local football (soccer) stadium. The “lot” consisted of a long road around the stadium with cars parallel parked along the edges and one row of cars angle parked in the center median.
We walked toward the center of the city, stopping briefly at Basilica Cateriniana which was a very simple brick church with out much ornamentation…..very different from ANY church that we have been in yet. It was refreshing to see wood beam ceilings without mosaics or frescos!!!
We then continued down to Il Campo (the center of town), and I do mean DOWN.
This was a cool fountain, but I really loved the pigeons drinking water from the wolves snouts…..
Sienna is built up from the square with the streets running in concentric circles around it. Many of the streets in this area are pedestrian only and it was nice to not have to continually move over for cars. Having said that, there were a lot of motorcycles and scooters that were still on these roads.
The biggest event on the Siena calendar is the Palio, a horse race that takes place around the outside of the square. The horses make 3 laps of the square in the race and race clockwise, just the opposite to the US. Spectators stand in the center of the square or rent window or terrace space in the apartments rising above the square. The city is divided into 17 sections (called contrade) and each contrada has a horse in the race. The winning contrada apparently celebrates their victory for the rest of the year!!!! Here is a photo of a poster with photos from the past race which was held in August……
Each contrada has flags that line their streets so it is easy to see when you are leaving one and heading into another. Also, click on this photo to see it larger and have a look at the funky light above the first door.…..
Piero decided that we would stop for lunch before exploring the Duomo and took us to a favorite restaurant called Trattoria Papei. We had a variety of dishes including tripe (not a favorite), pasta with rabbit sauce and pasta with cinghiale (while boar), but the favorite was my past which was called Pici Cacio e pepe. It was a very simple dish made with a “fat” pasta (their words, not mine), mixed with Parmesan cheese and ground pepper. It was fantastic!!! As I picked up my fork to start eating, an older gentleman at the next table stopped me and handed a container of fresh parmesan and indicated that I needed to add it to the dish before I ate…..
We loved our waiter who was helpful and fun to talk to and we left him a 7 Euro tip. He was so excited by this that he shook our hands several times and thanked us loudly as we exited the area.
We made our way to the Duomo.
It is a very interesting church on the inside with wonderful green and white columns….
There were gorgeous tile floors that are normally covered so that people dont destroy them by walking on them, but they had been uncovered for the months of September and October. They depicted various scenes from the Old Testament….
I did enjoy the library frescos and was amazed at the depth of color that still remained after all of these years. The ceiling was equally amazing….
Our final stop of the day was to a bakery called “Nannini” (as if we needed ANY more food). They specialize in many desserts, but the two most famous are which are super light flakey cookies that melted in our mouths, and Panforte which is a dense fruitcake dusted in powdered sugar.
A perfect ending to a day in Siena!!!!