"" Writer's Wanderings: Sunday In Siena, Italy

Friday, November 11, 2016

Sunday In Siena, Italy

Our last day in Siena was a Sunday and while we visited several churches, we found no worship services. Bob and I elected to wander to one of the further reaches of Siena that we hadn’t visited yet. 

Our first destination was the piazza where the Basilica San Francesco was. The parking lot in front of the church was full of cars so we very quietly opened the church doors because we were sure there was a group of worshipers inside. It was empty. Beautiful but empty. A stained glass window depicted both women saints, Catherine and Francesco but we didn’t find any information on who Francesco was.

On our map it appeared that there was a park of sorts behind and next to the church. We found private signs (some words are evident in any language) and didn’t go in the gardens but ended up in a rather upscale area of condominiums and wandered past them and back up into the older area of the town.

Another church was empty when we went in to explore. Beautiful marbled floors resembled the Duomo floors. A huge altar with gold trim graced the front of the sanctuary. Beautiful but empty of worshipers. Surely there had been services sometime. This was Sunday.  Was it just too late in the morning?

The night we had taken our late walk, we’d passed a piazza with a statue in the middle that was lit up quite nicely. I recognized it as we passed by again. It didn’t look quite as nice in the daytime. You might even say it was a bit scary with all the heads at the top of the building looking down at you. Piazza Salimbeni actually is formed by a palace built in the 14th century and renovated in the 19th century. 

As we headed for the far end of Siena and the Porta Camollia we found ourselves in a part of town that featured kabob places and shops that displayed Middle Eastern garb for sale. It was almost like walking into another country.

Along the way we were stopped by a group of four Americans in a car who had driven into the city and wondered if they could park there without getting a ticket. We had no idea about the parking but were able to share our map with them and point them in the direction of the Piazza Del Campo in the middle of town. I suggested they take a picture of our map with their iPhone and use it until they could get their own.

At the Porta Camollia, we stepped outside the wall of the old city and looked around. I think Bob was hoping for a McDonald’s nearby. We walked a couple of blocks and then returned to the portal and stopped at the little cafĂ© there for some coffee and a couple of donuts that were really good. Not McD’s but better, I thought.

That evening we visited a restaurant not too far from our hotel where we had stopped to take in the view from their terrace on a previous walk-by. Clever advertising “Come in and take a look at our view.” It was a bit too chilly for dinner on their terrace but we went inside and were seated at a nice table. Our last Italian dinner was a hit with the best antipasti we’d had the whole trip. It was almost a meal in itself

We always manage to find some sort of entertainment wherever we go—partly because we are so easily entertained. This night we found a large group of young people gathered in the park area behind and below our hotel. There was a race track set up and several stalls with donkeys in them. Eventually each donkey got a rider and we laughed as they tried to set up a start line for a race. A couple of the donkeys would break through the line each time they tried to make an even start. Obviously the donkeys were eager to get the race over with. 

The organizers somehow managed to get them almost even and just let them go. Two of the donkeys lost their riders but finished the race anyway. The young people surrounded the winner singing and chanting and hoisting a banner high. I got the feeling we had watched a parody of the actual Siena horse races.

As I snuggled between the crisp smooth sheets that night my thought was that this was the last night we would be in a bed that wasn’t moving. Hopefully our cruise would be smooth and uneventful weather-wise. 

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