"Wish You Were Here III"

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Jun 29, 2007

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Flag of Italy  ,
Friday, June 8, 2007

I have found a new love that gives me a reason to drop Venice as my Number One Italian sweetheart...


Today the sun shines and we walk for miles. The old town sits atop a hill and is ringed by an ancient wall. It has streets that are largely devoid of cars and the shops are very classy. There is a minimum of tacky souvenir shops and instead the sweet smell of Florentine leather draws me into boutiques to explore the range. There are also traditional hand-painted ceramics that beckon. The lady in the first ceramics shop has such an enthusiastic conversation with us in her non-English about her love for Australia that Liz and I feel deeply compelled to return and buy something.
Just to not be able to talk to her again!
She can, however, talk UPS shipping details quite adequately...

Gone now are the pastel coloured rendered buildings to be replaced by terracotta-coloured brickwork. The dominant building in the centre of town is the 11th-13th century Duomo, the Catholic cathedral with detailing to outdo Notre Dame! The fact that it is built from multiple colours of marble to start with is an eye-opener. One room inside displays 15th century handwritten hymn books with stunning calligraphy and illumination.

The food shops are different again to those we have seen elsewhere in Italy and the panforte that I have with this afternoon's coffee is to die for. If only I could be sure of getting some through Customs...

The piazza in the centre of Siena is a large amphitheatre with the imposing town hall across the bottom and cafes ringing the perimeter. Traditional horse races are held here twice a year (but not while we will be here, of course.) Surprisingly, coffees in the piazza are only around €1.50 compared to €10 at St. Mark's Square in Venice, so I intend at some stage to buy one, sit for a while and watch the world go by.

We pay the small admission to visit the imposing Duomo with it's predominantly white and black marble. It has a nave still unfinished that is currently a car park, but it is nevertheless a stunning piece of work both inside and out with paintings inside by Michaelangelo, ancient handwritten hymn books and extensive mosaic works on the floors.

After not finding adequate cooking supplies when we have had kitchens lately, we have come across a large supermarket between us and the city last night. Having only a fridge in the room this time, we buy cold collations and sit out in the hotel's garden for buffet dinner tonight.

Gallantine of chicken, pesto, salads, blood orange juice.
Twittering birds, bells chiming, sun sinking - tough stuff.
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