Siena - La Dolce Vita
Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
235Trip End Mar 04, 2006
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Parking in Florence is a nightmare. Everyone may well have tiny cars that are all new, but there are few spots around the town that aren't already filled. Hence their is a rebellious attitude to where you park. Find a small opening near a corner, put your car somewhere close to the curb, get out, look, shrug your shoulders and walk away. Elena has it down to a fine art. It is all in the shoulder shrug, flick of the hair and walk away. Very Italiano.
If you did that back home, your new Yellow Peugoet wouldn't be there when you returned
Traditional Toscanan food is more meat, less pasta. Our conversation is a little slow, but we do understand each other. Sometimes the dictionary comes in handy, as does the bi-lingual waitress. Elena was a little nervous beforehand, asking me "are you sure?" - meaning that she thinks her English is terrible and I must be crazy wanting to hang out with someone I can't speak to. She underestimates her language skills! When I was last here in Florence she wouldn't speak to me without using Mel as a translator. Now she chats like a professional.
In the morning, after the obligatory standing cafe machiato and pastry, I jump on the bus for Siena. I have been here before - accidentally. I was on the way to San Gimignano in the pouring rain, and ended up on the bus too long, before cracking the shits and getting on a another bus to my actual destination. Today it isn't raining, and I do actually mean to be here, which is a god start.
Siena is a beautiful town. 'Burnt Siena' must refer to the roofs of the buildings here, which are all a different shade of tan or red. The little piazzas and streets curve and roll up and down, amongst churches and small museums. The Tuscan countryside is just outside of town.
Il Campo is Siena's main square. It is where they hold an annual bareback horse race, the Palio, between Siena's district representatives. Somehow thousands of people fit here while horses and riders fly around underneath the Piazza's buildings and town hall. It must be crazy
Siena's Duomo is also a gem, although currently covered in scaffolding. Inside is almost over the top in design and gold, but it is incredible. They say internally it is the most beautiful Duomo in all of northern Italy. I still think Firenze wins by a nose.
Nearby the Chiesa di San Domenico is a rather large burnt Siena colored church. Its claim to fame is the head of Saint Catherine, which is on display for all to see. Santa Caterina is kept at a distance behind glass. She looks a little squished now to be honest, but it is really difficult to get a full idea of "where her head is at" (so to speak) because she is far away. Poor dear....
Wandering the streets of this gem of a town is a great way to spend an Italian day.
Returning to Firenze, and it is dinner with Melisa, Elena, and Elena's friend from Napoli, Luigi. He is a riot. Men from Florence seem reserved, quiet and almost 'too cool'
Luigi speaks about La Dolce Vita at length ('The Good Life'), and has us rollicking with laughter. His English is very good. I like the man.
We finished with drinks at a local bar, which has the 'Vietato Fumere' sign up. No Smoking in an Italian Bar - its a hell of an idea. The world is catching up to the Italians..... La Dolce Vita indeed.