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Suddenly Sunny Siena

ITALY | Wednesday, 13 October 2021 | Views [66]

Duomo and Contrade flags

Duomo and Contrade flags

HAVING A RENTAL CAR GIVES US a lot of freedom. But we also need a place to park, free parking if possible, which can make finding lodging difficult. In Siena, where cars have been banned since 1966, parking is verboten so we’re staying outside of town. Agriturismo Il Poderaccio sits on a hill surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. We share the property with the owner, Elsa, four dogs, two sheep, several horses, a pony, a donkey, a flock of ducks and a working winery. 


     Our AirBnB



                         Old ways are the Best Ways


                                                  Great views


                             Tuscan Morn


            Poderaccio Chianti

Our apartment—one of seven—is circa 13th Century with vaulted brick ceilings, tile floors, a decent kitchen, thick blankets and wonderful views. In short, it is spectacular! Elsa even gave us—me, since Connie doesn’t like vino rosso—a bottle of the house Chianti. Our first chores were to do laundry—it has been several years since we have had to hang clothes on the line to dry—and to hit the grocery store to stock up on vittles for the next few nights.


             Soaking up some rays on Il Campo

It was a cold and rainy January day when we last visited Siena which may explain whey we didn’t see much. Today was different; sunny, high 60s and plenty of time to look around. “Gabby” our trusty GPS who has somehow learned Italian, or at least some version of it, managed to get us to the San Francisco parking lot. where the €4 charge included the use of five—count ‘em, five—escalators that took us to the hilltop. Actually Siena occupies three hills and it seems you’re always going up or down.


                              Logos for the Contrade


                               Anything Goes in the Palio

Siena is “divided” into 17 neighborhoods, or contrade, each with its own church, mascot and flag. For most of the year Il Campo is a meeting place for Sienese from all neighborhoods. Today it was like a beach without an ocean with everyone soaking up some rays. But every year during the Palio, the Campo is covered in dirt and the Snails, Caterpillars, Rhinos, Giraffes and other contrades compete in a horse race with virtually no rules—anything goes as long as you win. And winning is very important.


    Ancient Window


                               Hitch 'em Here


                                                   A Blast from the Past


                            Prociutto in a Butcher Shop


       Prociutto Al Fresco

As usual Connie did due diligence and mapped out a route for us. Of course we got lost—it’s the thing to do in Siena—but there was always something interesting around every corner. And if worse came to worst we could always find our way back to Il Campo or the Duomo. 


            Duomo and Tower


                  Another View of the Duomo

As spectacular as the Duomo appears today, it is only a pimple on the butt compared to what it might have been. The main part we saw today, the nave, would have become a transept, one of the “arms” of a cross. The nave addition which was never covered is now a parking lot. Consequently, the tower and the dome are off center and the church is built on several different levels. “On time and on budget” was a difficult concept even back then.


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