We headed south after Pisa, the geography getting hillier and greener as we approached Siena.
Siena is a hilly, pretty city with one of the most beautiful piazzas in Italy (Piazza del campo), the 2nd highest tower in Italy (Torre del Mangia), and the most impressive Duomo (cathedral) I’ve ever seen. The interior of the Duomo is absolutely jaw dropping. It is a city full of churches, museums, and great views over the surrounding countryside.
Above: Torre del Mangia
The Piazza del Campo (below) is famous for the Palio, which is a no-holds-barred horse race run here twice a year. These races pit the 17 different neighborhoods of Siena against each other. You can’t go anywhere in Siena without hearing about the Palio, it is what unites but at the same time divides the Sienese more than anything else.
The Duomo di Siena (below) is absolutely stupendous. The interior is like a museum with its black and white marble pillars, intricate marble floor panels, beautiful renaissances frescos, a huge bronze dome, a sculpture of St. Peter by Michelangelo. What awed me most are the 170-odd busts of popes lining the cathedral, all looking down at you in an almost menacing manner. The whole cathedral was painted, sculpted, and decorated by the most celebrated Italian artists of that time. It is just amazing and I’m afraid these words and photos just don’t give it justice.
Below: Views on the Piazza del Campo from the Torre del Mangia
Below: more images around Siena.
Italians are very fashion conscious and you’ll see bright colours and the liberal use of hair gel. Surprisingly though, Italian fashion is more conservative and classical than anything I’ve seen in North America. I was also surprised to see that the preppy look of the 1980′s has made a comeback here. We found people-watching in Siena interesting.
Above: ok, that last one is a joke. I found it on the internet