Burnt Siena.

Trip Start Apr 10, 2010
Trip End Apr 10, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Tuscany,
Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is the part where we get a little bit excited, exploring the Tuscan wine region Chianti! Chianti is our all time favorite red, so we relished the opportunities to see the vineyards, all with plenty of fruit on the vines.
We spent an entire day lost in the Chianti Classico region and it is exactly what you expect an ideal place in Tuscany would look like; rolling vineyards and olive groves, decorated with quaint orange hilltop towns and castles. The ancient vineyards all had their own luxurious family villa that looked like a castle, and even at some points would have needed to behave like it. Such a beautiful countryside, with ancient cypress trees everywhere!

We had a good browse of a couple of walled medieval villages, one Certaldo, and the other we don't remember, we just camped in its parking lot. They were so old, the second being as old as the 10th century and were all built on roman foundations. These were serious war towns with serious needs to protect themselves, The Chianti region is the famous battle-ground between the Florentines and the Sienese.

Which brings us to Siena! A nearly impossible city to park in, but after such labour, you are richly rewarded.
Siena has always been the rival to Florence, and it goes very deep, even fighting for the right to be the art capital of Europe. It is the Gothic alternative to Florence with some spectacular structures. The main shell shaped piazza is said to be the best in Italy and is surrounded by awesome gothic buildings. But none was as brilliant as its cathedral.

The Siena Duomo in said to be the finest in Italy and has amazing black and white stripes throughout the entire structure. Unlike the Florentine duomo, the Siena cathedral is gorgeous inside and out. Despite the rather exorbitant fee to get in, it could be the most memorable cathedral ever, the black and white marble was stunning and you couldn’t help but be mesmerized. Not that the Donatello and the Raphael paintings helped…
The entire floor area was a masterful comic book like storyboard from the Bible all etched and in mosaic in marble. Very cool. The outer fašade at the front was all decorated with the animal kingdom a bit like the Laon Notre Dam. And even though there were the legions of tourists everywhere, it was a very reverent place.
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