I would like to begin this story by sharing an email I sent to family and friends right after my return from Siena.....this is how THIS adventure began..
Last week..........ya'll would have laughed your butts off if you could have seen me tuesday morning! Pouring down rain. Took the city bus to the bigger bus stop below town...when I say bus stop, I mean a place to sit or stand by a sign! I'm sitting there way early cuz you know me....don't wanna miss that bus.....with my backpack on, a plastice bag covering it cuz don'tcha know my rain cover for backpack was one of the things I threw out when trying to find more room when packing...duh. we call that dumbass in texas! So I've got a plastic shopping bag over my backpack and the umbrella that I bought in Pisa for 4 euros that was so cute and lasted for about one pop open! But I'm still using it, cussing it every time the wind blows cuz I'm that old lady with her umbrella all going backwards!! hahahahah....even I'm laughing about it right now! Get on my bus....only to be told that I have to change buses in Perugia....um, home of the Amanda Knox trial..... so.....change buses....everything is ok. but all the scenic views I was hoping for on my bus rides....nada. cuz of the rain. Jumped into a cab when I got there.....oh yeah, I went to Siena!!!! for three days! I stayed right in town by the palio where the big horse race is....vera cool. Loved that town. I walked and walked and visited churches.....and learned all about St Catherine, which elaine, I hope you looked up! So far, I've not met anyone from the south....until the day I'm sitting on the concrete in the middle of the piazza and who is sitting right beside me??? a couple who go to LSU!! It was like a breath of fresh air from home. And one more town where the shopping was TO DIE FOR. as soon as my grandbabies all get born and can stay with their daddies, I'm coming back here with my daughter-in-laws and we are gonna shop till we can't shop no mo!! So, it's time to come back and I get on the bus again at 5:30 pm. only bus that comes this way once a day. Well..........it's raining again and guess what breaks down???? Yep. so here is janey, once again, sitting on the street in the rain, waiting for another bus to come.....THAT NIGHT GOT JUST A WEE BIT CRAZY......but I just took deep breaths and adjusted my attitude and finally got home late that night. I had called Paolo, the taxi driver....my new best saviour and begged him to come get me and take me home. I couldn't stand the thought of waiting in the rain for 45 more minutes to catch the next local bus into town. There was NOWHERE to stand covered around that area......
Located in Tuscany, Siena is known for its medieval architecture, art and culture and its medieval horse race that is held twice a yr.
Tall tower is the clock tower found in Il Campo, the main piazza in town.
The dome and tower to the left of that tree is the Siena Cathedral (Duomo) which was begun in the 12th century. The black and white tower can be seen from anywhere in the town.
The beauty of this church is undescribable.
Besides my love of taking pictures of their clothes hanging out to dry...I was amazed that even one step back and look what you could see behind this house...
the cathedral tower!
Then, there is the Il Campo, the main piazza and the home of the Palio horse race. The race is held twice a yr and all other times, this piazza is the gathering place for everyone.
See the gray strip all around the edge of the central area? The horses actually race around the street area there. Read this!
The PalioThe Palio di Siena is a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August. The event is attended by large crowds, and is widely televised. Seventeen Contrade (which are city neighbourhoods originally formed as battalions for the city's defence) vie for the trophy: a painted banner, or Palio bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For each race a new Palio is commissioned by well-known artists and Palios won over many years can often be seen in the local Contrade museum. During each Palio period, the city is decked out in lamps and flags bearing the Contrade colours.
Ten of the seventeen Contrade run in each Palio: seven run by right (having not run in the previous year's corresponding Palio) together with three drawn by lot from the remaining ten. A horse is assigned to each by lot and is then guarded and cared for in the Contrade stable. The jockeys are paid huge sums and indeed there are often deals and bribes between jockeys or between "allied" Contrade committees to hinder other riders, especially those of 'enemy' Contrade. For the three days preceding the Palio itself, there are practice races. The horses are led from their stables through the city streets to the Campo, accompanied by crowds wearing Contrade scarves or tee-shirts and the air is filled with much singing and shouting.
Though often a brutal and dangerous competition for horse and bare-back rider alike, the city thrives on the pride this competition brings. The Palio is not simply a tourist event as a true Sienese regards this in an almost tribal way, with passions and rivalry similar to that found at a football 'Derby' match. In fact the Sienese are baptised twice, once in church and a second time in their own Contrade fountain. This loyalty is maintained through a Contrade 'social club' and regular events and charitable works. Indeed the night before the Palio the city is a mass of closed roads as each Contrade organises its own outdoor banquet, often for numbers in excess of 1,000 diners. On the day of the Palio itself the horses are accompanied by a spectacular display of drummers and flag twirlers dressed in traditional medieval costumes who first lead the horse and jockey to the Contrade parish church and then join a procession around the Piazza del Campo square. This traditional parade is called the Corteo Storico, which begins in the streets and concludes in the Piazza del Campo encircling the square. There are often long delays while the race marshall attempts to line up the horses, but once underway the Campo becomes a cauldron of wild emotion for the 3 minutes of the race.
This event is not without its controversy however, and recently, there have been complaints about the treatment of the horses and to the danger run by the riders. In order to better protect the horses, steps have been taken to make veterinary care more easily available during the main race. Also at the most dangerous corners of the course, cushions are used to help protect both the riders and horses.
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
I was sitting on the concrete just like everyone else, enjoying the day, when I could have sworn this foursome was Il Divo...the boy band!! Wasn't!
Lunch this day was a delicioso minestrone soup, eaten right on the edge of the piazza
Even tho these pizzas were everywhere!! do you see the size of that pie in comparison to the coke can?? that's a big-a pizza-a!
...to be continued!