Sunday, January 26, 2014


If I were to ever pick up my family and move to an Italian city, I would live in Siena. I loved everything about Siena. There is a tradition that says that Romeo and Juliet's fateful story was based on a tale that was originally situated in Siena.

What I liked most about Siena is the history, and the big/small feeling of it. It was big enough to feel like a city, but small enough to feel like a place you could call home. Historically, Siena was divided into 17 different wards or contrade which vied for importance and power. When a person was born into their contrade, they were a member of it for life. One didn't leave their contrade for anything; people who did were considered traitors. I liked the idea of a group of people all watching over you from birth to baptism to marriage to death. I can compare it to wards in the LDS church, who have a similar function - being geographic in nature, but also providing social structure and support.

City on a Hill - Siena
Our tour of Siena started near a cathedral that was built for the poor people (the tour guide actually told us this!) The Basilica of San Domenico itself was awesome. While not much to look at from the outside, the inside was filled with light. It also has the distinction of housing the head of St. Catherine of Siena. Her actual head is in a chapel that bears her name. Luckily the head is covered in wax so it doesn't look too gruesome, although I could see her teeth clearly, which were her real teeth, so a bit creepy. But this was a beautiful church. No photos were allowed though;
but here is a picture the chapel, and a link with a picture of Catherine (at the very bottom of the page.)

Basilica of San Domenico

Another view of San Domenico

Next we walked through the streets of the old part of Siena. They are windy, just like all Italian towns. 

It started to be a familiar thing to see a gorgeously gray and white striped Duomo. I liked the baptistry more than the Duomo - its entrance is built into the side of the hill that the Duomo sits on top of. Seriously, it gets exhausting after a while to keep turning corners and seeing such beauty coming at your from everywhere. Italy is ridiculously beautiful.

This staircase was one of my favorite details.

I tried over and over to get a good selfie. There were some locals watching me take these who seemed quite amused.

A few more twisty streets and you are at the Duomo.

So, part of the history of Siena is about the twins Romulus and Remus, who were raised by a wolf.  Romulus went on to found Rome, and Remus founded Siena. A beautiful fountain with friezes of the twin's story was in the Piazza del Campo (the main piazza for Siena). Amy and I found some gelato and checked out the fountain. Oh and I took some selfies of my feet (feet selfies? felsies? Not sure of the correct terminology on this one.)

I love the little details in the buildings of places we visited.

Later, we walked back to the bus. We got back to our hotel in Montecatini and ate dinner with Mom and Suzette and heard about their day. Our hotel was beautiful. Our room looked out onto a courtyard above the pool. We had a beautiful window in the bathroom and a giant jetted tub. And each of the three nights we spent here, we would open the window. The second night there was an amazing thunder storm. I've never heard thunder that loud before!

I like this mirror selfie of mom, Amy and me.

The dining room was super formal. Every night there was a 4 course dinner. The salad course was a buffet - there were such yummy salads! Then we had our pasta course - it was always yummy, although we did have a yummy lentil soup on of the nights. For the main courses we had thin slices of veal, and the next night was fish with delicious chick peas cooked in olive oil. And the deserts were delicious - the best tirimisu that I'll ever eat.

Breakfast was always lovely as well. Every morning I had a pastry, brioche, some sort of cold thinly sliced ham, yummy cheeses, hard boiled eggs. And blood-red orange juice. Delicious!


Rebecca Ferguson said...

The head is a little creepy but this town looks beautiful. I love the pictures!

Amy Sorensen said...

This was one of my favorite days. But it's funny how we each connect to different things. I think I liked Florence best, but I didn't find anywhere in Italy I'd want to live. Visit...return to more than once...but not live.

I am slowly working through the photoshopping of my photos. Then I will share! And, I'm proud of you for writing about it. I get scared and all blocked up every time I try!

(Also, if this comment is a last one vanished!)