Actually I don't travel a lot, but I wanted to write something new and different, a kind of column about the places I visit (or have visited) in my life. It won't be a very large column, but I hope you like it.
So, before my goldfish memory begins to take effect, I hasten to tell you about my journey that has as its protagonist the city of Siena, in Tuscany.
· Part 1: Projects.
Since my boyfriend and I have been together, for our anniversary we always try to organize something special to celebrate the day, time and availability permitting. This year they continued to propose a trip of a few days, but with Covid still bothering me, I insisted on staying in Italy at least. Among the various options that included Matera, Naples and so on… one day I find inspiration from a post by one of my followers that showed his hometown: Siena.
Wikipedia time: Siena. The city is universally known for its huge historical, artistic and landscape heritage and for its substantial stylistic unity of medieval urban furniture, as well as for the famous Palio. In 1995 its historic center was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is home to the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472 and therefore the oldest bank in business as well as the longest-running in the world.
The user had uploaded some beautiful photos of the city and considering that until now from 2013 (the year I moved to Tuscany) to date the only tourist city I have visited is Florence, I said to myself that it was a good opportunity to explore the rest of the territory.
I proposed the idea to my beloved and after some conversation the idea was accepted.
After booking the hotel, creating an itinerary and making sure there were no setbacks, the trip was finally organized. After that, we looked forward to the big day of departure.
· Part 2: Let's go!
Needless to say, we were super excited.
For us it was not just our anniversary trip, but also the first trip to be alone.
Ok, actually we have already done one together by ourselves ... but this was more special, I can't explain why. Perhaps because we were able to travel independently with a car, instead of taking a train or a plane. In fact, it was fun in its simplicity. The two of us in the car, crossing the Tuscan territory that passes by with its green woods… aah! What a pleasure!
Anyway, the trip goes very well and after three hours we finally arrive in Siena.
The city is unraveled in a somewhat chaotic way in the urban area (both internal and external) and you risk getting lost in the tangled streets. Valentino (my love) having studied in Siena for a year, he already knew the difficulty of this area and during the search for the hotel he had insisted on taking it outside the walls and in fact the strategy will prove very useful later.
We arrive at the hotel.
More precisely the Bed and Breakfast, an old stone farmhouse specially renovated as a welcoming meeting place for travelers.
I'll tell you, from the photos on Booking.com it looked a little more chic and larger in area. But in the end it proved to be a nice and comfortable place, with a polite and well-organized staff, and offering a delightful view of the Sienese countryside. Our room was nice and spacious, with the classic amenities of a minibar, an en-suite bathroom and a television. There were some flaws ... but despite everything, it was perfect for our necessities.
One of the strong points of this place is that being outside the city, it was very easy to get out and back without being forced to squeeze into too complex streets, and it was also being able to move from one side to the other without running the risk of catching traffic.
After we settled in our beautiful room and relaxed a little, we took advantage of the last hours of the afternoon to visit Siena right away. Despite the humid weather for a small storm that we escaped in time, we amused ourselves with a walk through the alleys and neighborhoods. To welcome us that day was the rainbow, which I saw as a good sign for that little vacation.
In Siena there are a lot of important buildings and monuments, but it also stood out for small details such as the coats of arms of the neighborhoods or the oddly shaped street lamps. Everywhere we turn an important place appears, such as Piazza del Campo or the Duomo, from time to time we happen to see posters of exhibitions and galleries that were running in those days inside large historic buildings. As we walked hand in hand, Valentino told me about when he was studying in those parts and about the nostalgia he tried to retrace those streets. I've been listening to him the whole time, curious to know more about this part of his past.
Between a chat and the other, the purchase of two souvenir magnets and a couple of stops because my feet hurt easily, it is almost time for dinner and we decided to go immediately to eat.
I could stop here but add one last note: Do you remember when I said how the city is strangely structured? Well, basically to go to the restaurant we had to leave the city and re-enter somewhere else after taking the freeway. We risked getting lost twice and cell phone navigators were useless.
· Part 3: Exploration
The next day is our anniversary.
The first thing we do when we wake up is to say “happy anniversary” and we are happy to be together again after nine years of ups and downs. We will spend the day out and in the evening we will celebrate with a nice dinner. After a nice breakfast, we left for the chosen destinations to visit beyond Siena: Monteriggioni and San Gimignano. Valentino assured me that they were very beautiful places to visit and after seeing them, he kept his word.
Another thing he warned me about was that there would be a lot of walking, especially uphill. Okay, no problem.
It is literally a village on top of a mountain.
To reach it we first had to find a parking lot that was close enough to the top, because the place is small and high, too high to allow cars to circulate. Despite the size, there were a lot of tourists to prove how important this was.
Monteriggioni is a really nice little place, a fragment of the medieval past that has come intact in our time, surrounded by high walls and olive trees that extend as far as the eye can see all around. From the stone houses you can glimpse the domestic activity of its inhabitants, in the two squares tourists bask under the beautiful September sun enjoying a coffee from the bars or to chat in peace, a section of the walls is being restored and the workers are working hard so that they can last for many more years. As interesting points there are both the local church and a modest museum of Medieval Armor, considering that there is little to see, the inhabitants have made good use of their few treasures.
After the visit was completed in a short time, we resumed our journey.
Reaching this location was no problem, except the road is full of curves.
I forgot to mention to Valentino that I suffer from car sickness: no matter how good he was to drive, unfortunately my stomach was unable to withstand the constant hairpin bends.
Once in the city area, the first thing I need right away is a place to relax and be able to eat something (it was also lunch time). I was so upset that I didn't pay attention to the city until after I recovered my strength, but despite the presence of various bars and restaurants, the thought of eating pasta and pizza makes me sick. Then it happens that my eye falls in a typical Tuscan tavern, a little hidden and less in sight than all the other places with mega signs and very chic interiors. We stop to read the menu. The dishes belong to the Tuscan culture and are very classic, but what attracts me most is the appetizer of various crostoni which offers, in addition to the usual tomato, Colonnata lard, mushrooms and other delights. After a brief confrontation, we decide to stop.
As I have already said, the interior is modest in size, there is a mezzanine that provides extra space for the tables and part of the main area is occupied by this long counter in which cold cuts and various fruit are displayed. The staff welcomes us with grace and professionalism and they make us sit right away, we take a look at the menu and we choose what to take - having to walk, we order what is enough to avoid weighing ourselves down in the walk. While we eat we chat with the owner and joke as well, with such a calm climate and the food so good I recover completely from car sickness.
If one day I go back to Siena, I want to go back to eat at this Osteria.
With a full stomach and a good mood, I could now enjoy San Gimignano.
As for the other cities, there is no shortage of climbs and medieval style.
Instead, the towers abound (fourteen to be exact) that rise towards the sky, distinguishing one from the other. Then there are the old shops modernized to fashion shops or pharmacy, the parapets from which to admire the landscape, the monuments are in plain sight and everything is well cleaned. There are more tourists than residents, the noise of coffee cups constantly echo from the bars and there is no shortage of street artists who perform for a few pennies. The uniformity of the stone buildings does not make the urban aesthetics boring at all, on the contrary; it seems that each building differs from one another as it does for people, whether it be by a window with a peculiar frame or by a wall partially covered with climbing ivy.
It's a really nice place, I wouldn't mind living there.
The day ends here, back to the den we relax and chat with the families to tell our experiences. As scheduled, we have dinner out in the evening.
· Part 4: back to Siena and back home.
Our vacation ends, unfortunately. I leave the room with my little heart sad because I wanted to stay a little longer in that place with my beloved. We leave the hotel at the appointed time, but we are not in a hurry to leave. We close our suitcases in the car and make a last visit to Siena, in particular to visit the Duomo, since the first day the visiting hours had already expired upon our arrival.
Guys, what a treat!
Not only is the history of this church crazy, but the inside is all a treasure!
I don't even know where to start because everything in there is gorgeous: the marbles, the frescoes, the floor itself is to be admired! I wish I could be more skilled in being able to describe the magnificence of this sacred place which, crowded with tourists, sparkles with divine light through the large windows and the opaque reddish lights. Everyone speaks in a low voice in there, not only to follow the rule of respect for a sacred place, but it seems that it is the very size of the building that imposes the calm as a professor with his stern gaze towards a student requires it. We follow the established path trying to capture every detail both with the eyes and with the photos, between cherubs that support the baptismal fonts and fake stars set on the ceiling on a fake sky, half-busts of popes and sovereigns watch with a hard expression whoever passes by them while saints, madonnas and apostles watch in silence. Instinctively, you keep your head raised to look at what overlooks us ... but let's not forget that even at our feet there is a work of art that stands out for its white, black and red figures so large that you have to go around it to be able to admire the whole form.
In short, to sum up the experience: the Siena Cathedral is gorgeous.
This is how our stay officially ended.
While we are in the car, Valentino and I think about how nice it was to spend these two wonderful days together. We don't talk much during the trip, but not out of tiredness or boredom, on the contrary, we are so relaxed and happy that we just enjoy each other's presence. We took many photos to have an eternal memory of this experience and it is very likely that I will leaf through them several times to remember this beautiful experience that has united me even more to the man I love.
Final note: thank goodness I remembered to take the photos, otherwise my mother would not have forgiven me.