Into Sienna today
. We had to drive almost into Florence to pick up the dual carriageway that links Sienna and Florence along the Val d'Elsa. MWNN got a great giggle when I pointed out that the road was called the Si-Fi route.
We managed to find shaded parking beside the sports' arena, alongside the funfair in Luna Park. After a short walk with the dog to view the statue of Garibaldi and a lovely bronze Etruscan horse and foal, we bought some panini olio and a couple of bottles of water to accompany the proscutto with melon, salami, sheep's cheese with onions and tomatoes I'd packed for lunch.
Leaving the dog safely snoozing in the car, we climbed up to the main square. This was my first experience of what I've come to think of as the grand Italian piazza, an enormous traffic free square flanked by medieval palaces and the mighty Palazzo Publico. I felt like one of Chaucer's pilgrims as my senses were accosted on all sides by the cries of the hawkers of tatty souveniers, the smell of freshly roasted coffee being served in the smaller cafes and the chink of glasses of bubbly (one hopes it was Prosecco and not imported champagne.)
On leaving the square to head for the Duomo, I was 'accosted' by a red-beret wearing Italian with twinkly eyes and a 'come hither' invitation to join him and his companions at their table. He was most amused by my laughter and insistence that I completed my pilgrimage to the relics of Catherine of Sienna. These consist of her head and little finger of her left hand which are housed in the chapel dedicated to her in the Dominican Church. This was the only church we visited as everywhere else charged an entrance fee. Even the public loos at the bus station were charging 50 cents.
Sienna is indeed a medieval pilgramage town and things have changed little since Chaucer's day when plenary indulgences could be bought, 'souveniers' of the Saints were for sale at every church, and even prayer comes at a price.Pics from Siena
Pic 1. Statue of Garibaldi.
Pic 2. One of the steep 'dead end' streets in the medieval heart of town.
Pic 3 The entrance to the Grand Piazza
Pics 4, 5 6 Various views of the Grand Piazza - can you spot MWNN outside the Palazzo Publico in number 6?
Pic 7 The tower of the Palazzo Publico.
Pic 8 View of the Duomo.
Pic 9 Two policemen on the entrance steps to the police station inside the Duomo precinct.
We hit a traffic jam with 5 km to go to Florence on our return along the Si-Fi road. It took us just over 30 minutes to clear it and join the A1 heading South. Our delay was nothing in comparison to the one that was heading north into Florence. It was backed up all the way to our exit at Incisa, some 22 km of it. We stopped to buy fruit in the town just before 8pm and we could see the stationary traffic from our apartment's terrace as we finished dinner at 9.30.