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Siena Travel Blog

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Carol outside the butcher shop

Not wanting to negotiate the streets of Siena after dark, we headed back to Siena and found our parking space without too much backtracking.  We were tired, hungry, and looking forward to riding that escalator up the hill.  But what's this???  It's not working!!  Horrors!!  We were gonna have to climb all those escalator stairs!!!  Then a local gentleman came along, proceeded to demonstrate that the escalators were operated by electric eyes, and calmly stepped onto the first stair, to be whisked away into the upper reaches of the hill.  Did we feel foolish or what???  So with great aplomb, we proceeded to activate the escalators at each level, like we'd been doing it forever.

Wednesday market
  HA!  Actually, quite a power-saving idea, as the escalators only run when they're needed, instead of all the time as they do in the States.

 

We got back too late to tour the Duomo, decided to do it the following day.  By the time we finished dinner and showered, we could hear the drums in the distance, so we donned whatever we could get our hands on, grabbed our cameras, and headed down to the street.  It was quite a spectacle, with the drums reverberating off the stone walls of the buildings, the flag twirlers swinging their flags which were probably 4'x6', (we speculated that they were the flags of the neighborhood), and the singers lustily proclaiming their victory in song.  Well, at least that's what we thought they were lustily proclaiming.

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Carol and polizia at the market

July 11, and we again breakfasted in the Campo.  Carol bought a salami from a butcher shop, which had a boar’s head and haunch as part of the door decoration.  Wednesday is the market day for Siena, so we headed outside the Fortress wall to the market area to stock our larder for lunch.  There were many stalls set up, most of which were selling clothing, trinkets, “rubber tomahawks and t-shirts.”  Wall-to-wall people.  We wended our way to the food section, where we bought some goat cheese (di capra; most cheese in that area is pecorino), tree-ripened apricots, golf-ball sized cherry tomatoes on the vine, and a couple of over-priced bread rolls.  Then we stopped in a bar and picked up a bottle of wine.

 

Somewhere early in our travels, we had acquired a split, a small bottle of wine.

At the seafood stall in the market
  We would then buy a large bottle of wine, decant it into the small bottle, which we would then take with us for our picnic lunches, having the rest for a drink when we returned to the room.  We went through a bottle a day.  And of course, we drank wine with dinner.

 

With our lunch taken care of, we headed back down the escalators … activating them as we went … to the car and headed for Montereggione, a hill town castle with a complete wall with several towers intact.  I drove this time, and only killed the engine twice before I got turned around and headed out of town.  First time I’ve driven a standard transmission car in ages!

 

The castle of Montereggione was built in 1213 by the Sienese Republic as a boundary fortress to defend against the Florentines.

Outside the fortress walls
  The wall had 14 towers, and massive walls.  We were able to climb to the top of the wall for stunning views of the countryside.

 

As Montereggione wasn’t very far from Siena, we made it back in plenty of time to tour the Duomo, only had to wait in line for about 10 minutes.  The Duomo was quite spectacular.  The structure dates from 1215.  The six-story bell tower, circa 1300, looks taller due to an optical illusion.  The white marble stripes are narrower and narrower toward the top, making the upper part of the tower seem farther away.

 

The interior was filled with striped columns, with the stripes echoed on the walls.

Castle gate
  Lots of early Renaissance art everywhere one looked.  Standing in front of the altar and looking back into the body of the church, the visual effect of the stripes was overwhelming.  The only place for the eye to rest at peace was in gazing at the altar, where nary a stripe could be seen.  The inlaid marble floor, created over two centuries, contained a wide range of designs, from simple black and white patterns to scenes from the Old Testament.

 

On the way back to the hotel, we spied a mask shop, so we had to pop in to see all the beautiful and fanciful masks.  The proprietors also had a limited selection of puppets, which were pretty cool.  We didn’t buy any masks, but we did pick out a couple that we felt reflected our personalities.  While we were in the mask shop, it began to rain, the first inclement weather we’d experienced.  Rained just enough to get the streets wet and to cool things down.

 

That night, we were serenaded by a group of college graduates who were celebrating at an outdoor restaurant about 100 yards from our hotel.  The Palio winners, however, did not show up.

Carol outside the butcher shop
Carol outside the butcher shop
Wednesday market
Wednesday market
Carol and polizia at the market
Carol and polizia at the market
At the seafood stall in the market
At the seafood stall in the market
Outside the fortress walls
Outside the fortress walls
Castle gate
Castle gate
Castle battlements of Montereggione
Castle battlements of Montereggione
Walking along the castle walls
Walking along the castle walls
Vineyard from the Castle walls
Vineyard from the Castle walls
Rear walls
Rear walls
Santa Maria Assunta Church
Santa Maria Assunta Church
Church bell tower
Church bell tower
Sunflower fields of Montereggione
Sunflower fields of Montereggione
Siena Duomo
Siena Duomo
Duomo entrance arch detail
Duomo entrance arch detail
Duomo tower
Duomo tower
Side chapel in Duomo
Side chapel in Duomo
3 tall illiminated Gregorian chan…
3' tall illiminated Gregorian cha…
Whimsical fish street lights in Si…
Whimsical fish street lights in S…
Tie your horse here
Tie your horse here
Siena
photo by: Pearl510