We signed up for a trip through school to visit two cities about an hour from Florence. I was a little worried because it was my idea and I wasn't sure what I was dragging everyone else into. I was worried we'd be a big touristy American mob like the ones I am so sick of already. Luckily Sunday was the perfect day in my book, even more perfect than my day of wine tasting in Napa Valley. Six of us went on the trip and we had three tour guides, two Italian men and one Croatian guy who I decided to call (not to his face) Wesley because he looked identical to the actor in the Princess Bride. It was really nice to be a small group exploring the cities. It was nice to know the history and not just wander aimlessly taking pictures of "pretty things".  However, I'm not really much of a "follow a guide" person, so it was a little tough for me to not wander or go inside random places. 

Before I had mixed feelings about Siena, thinking it was just a "touristy place". I was very wrong. While yes it is touristy and even cars aren't allowed much in the main section of the city- it was incredible. We saw the Campo which is in a shell shape to represent The Nine that once ruled Siena. I wanted to climb the tower but we ended up climbing up to a church instead that overlooked all of Siena. Much better. We also visited the Siena Duomo which is the most elaborate church I have ever seen. There must have been hundreds of carvings on the facade. The style had been added later, and some of the church was even left unfinished. Someday I would love to go inside and climb to the top. We didn't want to pay 11 Euro to go inside the church. Well I did. Our guides didn't. 

We also ate at Nannini a famous pastry place found only in Italy. Needless to say it was fantastic. Lastly in Siena we visited an old fortress. Amazingly Florence and Siena had warred for 500 years. The war only stopped when Siena ran out of food and water and their wall kept them from gaining more supplies. Florence took over and the Medici set up a fortress in Siena in case of a rebellion. Now the fort is a running track with beautiful views of Tuscany and Siena. 

For a little Siena history: Siena was settled around the time of the Etruscans (900 BC to 400 BC). There is a legend that Siena was founded by Senius (son of Remus whose brother Romulus founded Rome) so the famous Remus and Romulus statue is everywhere in Siena. Siena grew because of commerce and trade but rivaled and warred with Florence for 500 years. Two thirds of Siena was also wiped out because of the plague and this led to a decline. In 1966 Siena banished motor traffic from the city center.

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After Siena our guides surprised us with a trip to Monteriggioni a tiny walled village on top of a hill. Monteriggioni is a medieval town built in the 13th century and very little work has been done on the buildings since they were erected. The city was important during the long conflict between Siena and Florence. 
1/26/2010 04:51:00 am

I'm so glad you're taking advantage of your time there!! Looks like an awesome trip so far!! Love you miss you! :-)

1/26/2010 07:17:58 am

what a lucky girl. Great pictures.


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