The Heavens Opened on the Holy Cities
Trip Start Apr 14, 2011
65Trip End Nov 16, 2011
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We also manged a little road trip in between the showers to go to both Assisi and Perugia. Assisi was a very nice little city with an amazing Basilica that contained the remains of St Francis of Assisi within a decorated tomb. Inside the upper and lower sections of the Basilica there were frescoes over all of the walls (you'd have thought we'd have seen enough of these but no!). We had a lightening quick tour of the city, well because of the lightening really... The spooky weather did give some of the medieval buildings a slightly sinister edge even though they are houses' of god. If we were true believers we would have braved it out a little longer, well... we are not, so we continued on to our next stop.
Perugia is a university city and you can see that, as the price of things is definitely better than a lot of the places we have been in Italy. They have an impressive cathedral and the Fontana Maggiore monument in the centre of the Piazza IV Novembre was cool (built by Nicola Pissano and his son Giovanni in the 13th century). There are some really wonderful views over the valleys from the city and we did just about get time to enjoy them before another onslaught of rain. Those in the UK might be used to rain but we have found it almost alien!
We decided to add in another stop (as we do) to Siena. It was only a short drive from our previous camp so we arrived late morning and decided to head into the city to explore. We asked the lady at the camp site the way into town and she told us it was only 2.5km away so we decided to cycle. Very clever, we thought to ourselves as we saw others getting on buses or driving into Siena. The lady at the camp site however forgot to mention to us that there were some huge hills on route! At first a steep hill going down, that I just knew would kill me on route back up, then a long gruelling gradual slope up into Siena. I'm pretty sure it was a longer journey that 2.5 km, but if it wasn't it was the longest 2.5km of my life!
Anywho, somehow we found ourselves immersed in the wonderful medieval city of Siena. As we entered through the city walls we passed a statue of Remus and soon noticed many statues of the wolf feeding the twins, Romulus and Remus. According to legend the son of Remus founded the city.
We walked (well it was more of a stagger for me) to the Piazza del Campo. The strangest Piazza we've seen yet. It's huge and the whole floor slopes down from the Fonte Gaia (happy fountain) at the top of the slope to the Palazzo Communale (town hall) at the bottom. The Piazza was full of people sat or laid on the sloping floor, chilling in the sunshine, so we decided to join them for a while. We peered around the Piazza, the edges are full with cafe's and restaurants, and amazing medieval houses that have been stood there since the 14th Century.Fully rested we had a look in the courtyard of the Sienese- Gothic Palazzo Communale, and looked up at the graceful bell tower (Torre del Mangia) above. From here we made our way through the gnarled lanes of the historic centre to the very impressive Duomo. As they were charging people to enter (surely that's wrong?!) we decided to admire it from the outside, as it is quite a spectacle.
From here we browsed some of the shops in the lanes and bought a spiced Panforte to sample, a cake originally made in this region for the crusaders to take with them for energy. It was rather stodgy but actually quite tasty! Let's face it we needed something to give us energy for the cycle back! We also bought some Chianti, as being in the Chianti region it would be silly not to!
After a while we decided we'd better tackle the journey back to camp. I survived! Then we fell upon a lovely tea of Pork with Fagiolli beans and a nice Chianti ff ff ff ff ff (said in a Hannibal Lector voice!).