We arrived in Siena later in the evening, having been completely consumed by San Gimignano. It is as unlike Vienna as a city could possible be. Cramped, twisting, all mostly of bare brick, it is the opposite of Vienna’s grand wide boulevards, vast white palaces and lush green parks. The first impression was somewhat strange… it reminded me of Genova with its narrow streets and it certainly looked a lot less touristy than many of the places we’ve been to so far.
It was a bit tricky to find the apartment, and the additional climb to the fifth floor left us panting… but every step was worth it. We are on the top floor of a building in the dead centre of town, with a view of the Duomo and Church of San Domenico over the roofs of the old town. Wow.
We headed to… I would say town, or down town, but in our case it was 200 m down the street to Piazza del Campo for a drink. What a strange place, how different! There seem to be almost no foreigners, and the atmosphere is very young and relaxed. Standing in the middle of the square feels like standing in the middle of an arena, which incidentally it serves as during the famous Palio.
I had a rather odd incident when paying for our Aperol spritz on the main square. My hand was asked in marriage and I was presented with a ring! I was obliged (and happy) to refuse the former proposal, seeing as my heart and hand(s) are taken, but somehow I was left with the ring and I must say the disappointed party did a good job choosing it, as I rather like it. I presume it was something lost or found, yet indeed I wear in now on my hand as I write these very lines. We exchanged more euros than words, and I never knew nor will ever learn his name (if it sounds familiar, it’s from The Name of the Rose – a film that was constantly evoked in my mind by the scenery of S. Gimignano).
We then explored the back streets of the town, which were largely deserted, and came upon the façade of Siena’s magnificent Duomo, which we shall visit properly in tomorrow. Then we returned to our street, where we had spotted a lovely little venue called Pretto on our way out. We took some wine and a selection of prosciutto, salumi and fresh pecorino… what a delight! People were enjoying selections of goodies served on beautiful wooden boards, the atmosphere was relaxed and cosy despite the bright lights. Feeling obliged to finally come home and catch upon the blog, we requested a take-away bottle of wine and a few slices of salami. And so now we sit on our incredible balcony overlooking the town, with two cathedrals below and a million stars above. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
We woke up to a brilliant day in Siena, and were greeted at breakfast by a small troop of young men dressed in rather odd vestments, marching through the streets drumming and waving flags. We were clueless, but it was a hint of things yet to come in on this day.
We spent the morning strolling around, discovering some fantastic views and hidden streets.
As the time rolled around for lunch, we dropped into a fine looking tavern. The food was delicious and the service superb, and we cooled off in the refreshing stone interior.
The streets were blazing hot as we crossed the main square again. If there is one thing I love in Italy, it is the endless supply of water in every village, town and city. There are fountains with drinkable water on virtually each square, a priceless thing given the heat of summer.
Finally we returned to the car outside the city walls and headed off. It was refreshing to return to the green countryside after the whole morning of burning brick and stone. Our next stop, Assisi. And what a surprise awaited us there!