We discover il Campo, then head out for Volterra.
Siena Travel Blog› entry 7 of 24 › view all entries
The next morning, July 10, we learned from the desk clerk that our entertainment of the previous night was courtesy of the Palio. The Palio di Siena is a bareback horse race that is run around the perimeter of the Campo by ten horse-and-rider teams. The ten riders are selected from the 17 neighborhoods by lot and rotation. The riders of the July 2 Palio were required to dine together each night, then parade into the Campo carrying the winner's banner. They were accompanied by 12 snare drums of various sizes, and 6 flag twirlers. Residents of the winning neighborhood often joined in the parade and singing. We resolved to go to bed dressed that night, so when we heard the drums, we could dash down with our cameras and photograph the spectacle. But it was time for breakfast.
We bought panini and cappuccino from a nearby cafe, and breakfasted on the steps of the Fonte Gaia in the Campo. The fountain had dogs (or wolves) that spouted water into the pool through their mouths, and the local pigeons had learned to perch on a dog's nose, bend over and drink from the stream of water.
We had planned to beat the tour groups to the Duomo, but learned that the Duomo didn't open till 10:30, and the tour groups were already marching up into the square. We decided we'd hit it when we came back from touring later that afternoon. Instead, we toured the Baptistry, which had a marvelous mosaic floor, to say nothing of the painted ceiling .
We discovered an escalator that ran from inside the Fortress to the paid parking garage in the general vicinity of where we parked, so we hopped on and made a record descent to the car. We were on our way to Volterra, a hill town about an hour away. With Carol driving, I navigated our car through modern Siena and onto the correct road out of town, which was a challenge, as there was just a dearth of street signs. As bad as Mexico. After taking the 'scenic' route through town, we ultimately got on the proper road to Volterra.