Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I had many doubts about going to Siena. Not because I didn’t think it would be beautiful, but I was sure that I was going to be as ill on the bus as I was when we took the bus into Florence on the way to Venice. In fact, I was looking forward to going to Siena so much. I had read a lot about it recently in a book that my Mother-In-Law had passed along to me before my trip, and the images I got from just reading that book made me very excited to spend time in Siena.

The bus ride was not a problem for me. In fact, I spent most of the way asleep. Apparently, Gabriel was not feeling very well behind me, and all of the effort I had put into having things that kept me well and clean on the bus were transferred to him as he vomited in the seat behind me. It was sad, but it worked out well. I had him come sit next to me, and I took care of him for the rest of the trip there.

When we got there, we took a nice little walk around the perfectly kept walls of the city. I was impressed at the fact that they were so well built that they still stood to be admired 600 years later.

We stopped next to a church with a public bathroom. I didn’t have to use the bathroom, so Jeffrey told us that the church we were standing next to was a church that held the head of St. Catherine of Siena. It was an intriguing story. We have seen many, many relics on our trip so far, so I was excited to add it to the list of the ones that I had seen. It was actually very odd looking, and not very nice. The church it was in was a nice church. The modern stained glass windows made it very ugly and hard to look at because the colors were very bright and intense.

After the church, we walked around Siena a bit more and went to have some coffee at a famous café called Nanini. It is famous for it’s pastries, which it exports all over Europe. I decided that it was a good time to have a pastry and some coffee (my coffee intake has been very limited lately). The pastry was OK, but I can honestly say that the ones I eat on Paros are much better in my book. I’m glad that I was able to try it though.

After coffee, we walked into the main square. The square is where the big commune building is. It is also the place where the famous Palio horse races take place. There was actually something special going on while we were there, and all of the flags were up around the city indicating what contrada we were in at all times. It was a lot of fun to see the sprit of Siena. It seems to be a lot more present than in many of the other towns I have been in. If I were to take Jared or anyone else in my family to a city in Italy, Siena would definitely be at the top of my list.

We went in and spent time looking at the treasures of the museum inside the commune. There were many interesting things to see including an incredible fresco in the room where the counselors meet that depicts the world under good government and then under bad government. I really enjoyed the fresco. Everything else we saw in the museum was just stuff that was interesting as far as the puzzle of the Renaissance is concerned and not anything that anyone else would really be interested in or intrigued about.

There was a wedding going on in the middle of our tour, so we ended up splitting up ion the museum to go and see the things we didn’t get to see as a group.

There was a stairwell that led up to a balcony of the building, and we were able to see a really incredible view of Siena from that vantage point.

We then walked as a group to the Duomo in Siena. The walk was really amazing because we passed by a lot of old palaces with the flags of the contrada hanging about. It was a really beautiful walk. It started to rain a little bit on us as we walked along.

Getting into the church was easy, but I saw the counter when we walked in that indicated that there were over 600 people in the church. Part of the problem is that the floor of the church is considered a great masterpiece, so there are only very narrow parts that you are able to walk on. Going through such a large crowd in such a narrow space is a very hard thing to do. We did the best we could possibly do in the given situation.

I was able to see some of the smaller sculptures that were made my Michelangelo to go in a tomb in the church. The sculptures were really nice, but they weren’t highlighted in any way at all.

There is a library in the church that was built for Illuminated Manuscripts that is fabulous. The manuscripts are very amazing, and the room that they are in is full of very bright and shiny frescoes. The time that we spent in the Duomo was really very nice.

We had quite a bit of time available for lunch so Christy and I walked around a lot. It was raining, and I was able to take advantage of people out walking around with umbrellas to protect them, which is a theme that I have been recently using in my photographs. I found a grocery store, and bought food for lunch. Christy and I sat in front of the Commune and ate. Then, we went shopping and I bought a pashmina that is very beautiful. I took photos for a while and we headed back up to the Duomo to meet with Jeffrey.

After lunch, we looked at the façade of the church and then headed over to the Museum of the Works of the Duomo. I like it when there are museums with the original things from a church because it allows you to get a lot closer to the things than you may have been able to do under other circumstances. The main highlight was the Duccio altarpieces, which we spent quite a bit of time in front.

At the end of the tour, we were told that there was access to a very high balcony above the church. Even though it was raining, I ran up to that point with several other people. I even managed to have my photo taken up there. The view was just amazing, and I really enjoyed seeing what has become my favorite city from that wonderful angle.

At 5:00 we went to the bus and headed for home. I was not feeling well, and I had to sort out some things with John regarding foods that were available at the villa, and he agreed to set up having the cooks make food that I would be able to eat. I felt a lot better.

We got back to the villa just before dinner. Dinner was lasagna without tomato sauce, zucchini omelet, sausage, bread, cheese and fruit.

After dinner we finished Dante with Jeffrey.

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