I finally made it to the infamous Siena and all I can say is….wow. I mean this place was unbelievable. Hands down the most beautiful, interesting, and culture packed city we have been to yet (in my opinion). Normally the morning excursions to the museums and duomos are a little rushed since I’m eager to get out and explore the city, but this time I lingered in the rooms, intensely studying the altarpieces and mosaics.
Our first stop was the museum, where we saw Duccio’s Maestá, an altarpiece created in the early renaissance. It is said that when Duccio’s transferred this alterpiece from his studio to the Duomo, the entire city shut down for the procession. It is massive and beautifully done, showing the first indications of perspective (pre-Brunelleschi) and reflecting the humanist ideals of the time. The gold leafing in the drapery and the halos gave the Maestá an ethereal appea in the dim lighting. After spending quite a long time contemplating the masterpiece, we had the opportunity to climb a dizzying-and quite narrow-staircase to the highest point in the museum. From the top of an old campanile we got a stunning panorama of the Duomo and the Campo. Twice a year in the Piazza del Campo, Italians from all over gather to watch 10 jockeys race bareback around the square. With the first race around mid June and the second around early August, we were unable to view this tradition-however, it is definitely on my list of things to do! After a steady climb back down, we stole away to the Duomo. This trip I have been in many churches, but this one was the most spectacular by far. The floor was completely covered in these intricate mosaics depicting biblical stories and the Sybil’s. Similar to the scriffito style used in ceramics, artists had painted black over carvings in marble and scraped away the positive space. What was left was extremely detailed narratives that seemed to move along the floor. Accompanied by huge arches, colenades, and blue ceilings splattered with stars (khaki said she was going to paint her dining room like this), the Siena Duomo was for sure my favorite church so far.
Due to my recent love for trip advisor we found ourselves eating at yet another local, non-tourist joint. Te Ke Voi was another little hole in the wall restaurant nestled in an alley off the Campo. Local fresh ingredients made up the traditional Sieanese menu. It was cheap, quick, delicious and had something for everyone. Their grilled eggplant, Bufula mozzarella, and focaccia had me begging for more. After lunch and popping in a few shops that had way too many things we can’t afford, we stopped for aperitifs at Pub San Paolo. We drank fruity cocktails on a deck overlooking the Campo. It’s view + cheap (but still good!) drinks made it an afternoon that I will remember forever-plus the “disco toilet” will forever be burned into my memory (the entire bathroom was covered in mirror mosaics. This plus a laser light show while using the restroom kinda of makes an unforgettable experience). To my dismay, we were herded back onto the around 5 pm and bumped back to Cortona. Siena, don’t think this is our last time meeting.