Siena is certainly in the running for most beautiful city of the trip.
I took the train from Genova to Florence where I would take the connecting train to Siena. I arrived at the Campo Marte station and soon realised that the train I wanted departed from the Rifredi station, an hour’s walk across town. So, with one sorrowful glance at a nearby taxi, I strapped my two backpacks on and walked across Florence.
I made the train on time and arrived in Siena where Stephanie was waiting at the station for me. She drove me home to where Gianfranco had lunch waiting. After an amazing two course lunch, I went upstairs for what I claimed would be a quick rest, and woke up the next day. Apparently I was tired.
Stephanie took me into Siena that afternoon.
The very interesting thing about Siena is the way it’s divided into “contradas.” The locals all belong to one of 17 contradas, (Gianfranco belongs to the contrada of the snail, or chiocciola), that compete in the Palio horserace that takes place in the piazza.
Each contrada has ally and enemy contradas, their own museum, and their own chapel, among other things. The Palio is so much a way of life that before the race the horses will be kept in the contrada under guard.
Walking through Siena was sometimes like walking through a Miyazaki movie. The colours were vibrant and the buildings were old and detailed.
We walked by the Duomo.
And on another day we went in. I think this is one of the more impressive churches I’ve been in. In my opinion, even though I’ll probably never see a more beautiful church in terms of light than the Sagrada Familia, I think this was more beautiful.
Beautiful for different reasons, but my favourite so far.
Gianfranco has a restaurant in Siena called Compagnia dei Vinattieri where I was lucky enough to be treated to a lunch with Stephanie.
I was allowed to play the piano for a little bit, followed by a personal tour by Stephanie to the wine cellar.
They have over 1000 different types of wine!
Of course, lunch was fantastic.
The food in Italy was, as expected, excellent. I liked how at one restaurant they served the Crème Brûlée still on fire.
But of course, my true love was the gelato.
On the last day in Siena, Stephanie took me on a countryside tour through the Chianti region and up to Montalcino.
We passed through a town famous for its hotsprings,
past wild rosemary,
and arrived in Montalcino, where the wine is so famous it can sell for €1000.
The view was free though.
After a week of exploring Italy from the hospitality of Stephanie and Gianfranco’s house, I said my goodbyes and began my journey to Switzerland.
Siena was my base, but I did some other exploring. There’ll be more of Italy before the blogs get to Switzerland!