Sights of Siena


A full day indeed! We woke to see the fog settled over the surrounding hills

and after a hearty breakfast i borrowed a bike and set off into town. It wasn’t too far (about 4 km) but my god it was scary, there weren’t any helmets and i had to go on the road as the footpaths had people who stared VERY disapprovingly if i tried to go along the path. Regardless of their icy glares i used the path as much as possible and was VERY relieved when i finally made it to the Wednesday Markets at La Lizza! It was like a mobile shopping centre with caravans full of clothes 3 stories high lining the pavements

I then made my way to the San Domenico Basilica, founded by the Dominicans in 1125 as part of their friary. It is fully gothic in its formation which is manifested in the guant and severe architecture, constructed entirely in brick and is VERY sparse inside

The basicalla is also known as Basilica Cateriniana and houses the Cappella di Santa Caterina (Chapel of St. Catherine), frescoed with scenes from the saint’s life. Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-80) was a lay-affiliate of the Dominican Order famed for her intellect and mystical visions of Christ. Her house and shrine is in her hometown of Siena, Italy. She also worked to bring the Papacy back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states. She is one of the two patron saints of Italy, together with Francis of Assisi. The chapel also enshrines St. Catherine’s incorrupt head and finger in a gilt reliquary case on the altar. Ewwww

My first taste of the Palio was when i saw the colorful flags of each contrada in the souvenir shops. Little did i know at this stage how enrapt i would become in the phenomenon that is the culture surrounding the Contrada’s and the Palio

I followed a Nun and the general flow of traffic down Banco di Sopra tooooooo

the campo! The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, which houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, is another architectural treasure, and is famous for hosting the Palio horse race.

Where i joined many others in enjoying the beautiful sun

I then wound my way through to Siena’s cathedral, the Duomo. Begun in the 12th century, is one of the great examples of Italian romanesque architecture.

It’s unusual for a cathedral in that its axis runs north-south. This is because it was originally intended to be the largest cathedral in existence, with a north-south transept and an east-west aisle, as is usual. After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall (which still exists and may be climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned.

I’m saving exploring the inside for another (possibly less tourist filled) day. So we wandered around and came to a funky little retro shop where the owner recommended a great place for us to have lunch

and also the general direction of the health clinic i need. As i’m soon going to India i was checking if all my vaccinations are up to date and unfortunately my Meningitis vaccination has expired. Hence we’ve been exhausting all possible options and it has turned into a real wild goose chase.

When we finally found the clinic (disconcertingly close to the Psychiatric hospital) it looked like a house and was well and truly closed with the address of another clinic. So ventured across Siena and found the address… but no clinic… its moved? I called my medical travel insurance people and hey had no idea. I searched the internet and for foreigners found the address of the clinic which didn’t exist! After talking to locals we got the number of the NEW clinic who we called and who outright refused to administer vaccinations to foreigners! The same response that we got from the hospital. Great… Any suggestions?

After our Ospedale Psichiatrico visit we just decided to wander and got nice and lost, exploring the different contrada’s

This was my favorite, the Tartuca (Tortiose) contrada with a little cherub whose nose you rub for good luck!

The motto of the contrada is “Strength and perseverance I harbor.” πŸ™‚

We delighted in aspect of everyday Senese life

We walked past the old Market beneath the Campo

before stocking up on groceries – of all shapes and sizes?

and then finally headed home

and had a nice home-made dinner!

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Sights of Siena

  1. margaretbiggs

    The Tartuca tortiose moto describes you.strength & perseverance i harbor. also your dad !problem re meningitis vacc. could ric everingham help ? big hug margoo xx

    • i contacted Rick and unfortunately he’s very busy at the moment so im unable to visit him BUT we randomly tried another pharmacy today that’s closer to where we are staying and the lady was WONDERFUL! I bought malaria tablets, flu tablets ( i have a little unfortunate case of the flu) and gave us the meningitis vaccine and a time to visit the doctor next door! i couldnt believe it! i was SO close to giving her a huge hug hahah The Tartuca metaphor paid off πŸ™‚ Also Uncle I sent me an email as he solved the colorful bird mystery – he thinks its a Bee Eater. They are found in southern Europe and across the Middle East and he used to see them in Iraq – how cools that! much love xo

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