May 5, 2014

Seeing Siena

Just a short (though perilous) bus ride away from Florence is the medieval town of Siena. After reading the book, Juliet, by Anne Fortier, a conceptualized story based on the history behind Romeo & Juliet, set in Siena, Jewel and I were both dying to visit the historic municipality. 

We arrived in the late afternoon, giving us the perfect amount of time to stroll the sloping streets. 

Most of the attractions in Siena, like anywhere in Italy, are churches. We ventured to see the Duomo di Siena, which the three of us agreed is one of the oddest cathedrals we have entered.  

The church is undeniably astonishing. My Mom made the excellent observation, though, that contrary to its eye-appeal, it retains the oddity of seemingly being more devoted to the Papal state, rather than the religion itself. This can be most well illustrated by the hundreds of Popes lining the main hall of the Cathedral. 

Each bust is uniquely constructed, with various expressions, ranging from agony, disappointment, fear, sadness, stoic dignity, and superiority. Notably, none looked particularly jovial. 

The floors, too, were uncommon to any I have seen elsewhere in Italy. Marble carvings embossed into the floor were numerously scattered throughout the large edifice. 

Everywhere we looked in the church we saw masterpieces. The Papal state seemed to be explicitly patron to the greats when constructing the Siena Cathedral, for the contributions of Raphael, Bernini, and many more can be seen throughout. 

Left perplexed by the unusual church, we exited back out into the shaded streets.

The architecture of the storied buildings, paired with the gradient, narrow lanes, gives Siena a covert character, easy to imagine the main character in Jewel and I's book fleeing down in terror, as she tries to escape her fate.     

The claustrophobia of the streets is shattered as you enter Piazza del Campo, a half-shell shaped center around the Palazzo Pubblico

Like the area in front of Pitti Palace in Florence, civilians flock like lizards to the warm brick piazza to soak up the sun, socialize, and, in typical Italian form, make-out. 

We stopped for lunch on the square, usually a risky choice, but thanks to a "Rick Tip", turned out well. We went to Bar Palio, which was both affordable, tasty, and the perfect place to people watch (a favorite past time that runs in the family). 

When we finished our late lunch, the sun was already beginning to dip behind the city walls, so we journeyed on to see the rest of the city.

During our promenade, I found the first pink Vespa I've seen since being in Italy. It was perfect. It wanted me to steal it. I could hear it saying, "Kenna, Kenna...look at me! Imagine your favorite scarf and diva sunglasses, wind in your hair, curving down Tuscan roads...we would be flawless together!" I was mighty tempted to make a getaway on her.  

I discovered more than just one of my favorite things in Siena; we also happened upon a wishing well nearby, where I went looking for my frog prince. 

He was nowhere to be found, but a girl can keep dreaming. Next time I'll try to remember to bring my gold ball.  

They may be few and far between, but when you can find a view out of the tremendous streets, the sight outside of the town is spectacular.  

I thought we had found the creepiest doors around when we were in Verona, but upon seeing these bad boys, Siena proved us wrong and won the competition, hands down. 

After breaking our distraction from the creepy-McCreep doors, we realized we had made a perfect circle, leaving us with a perspective of the duomo from earlier in the afternoon. 

We managed our way back to the bus stop, and killed time with cappuccini, while waiting to be taken back through the tuscan hills into Florence.

Overall, I really enjoyed Siena. We all did, though it was in many ways, I imagine, not what we expected. There are oddities throughout the city, making it lack a synthesis usually seen in Tuscan towns. This strangeness, though, is part of the charm, and likely why the Jones girls like it so much; we tend to like quirky things. 

Yours, Kenna

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