Tag Archives: mishaps

Day tripper: Siena

12 Oct

My friend Leah and her fiance, Aaron, invited Colin and me to spend some time in Tuscany with them this past weekend. Colin was swamped with reading and declined, but I joined them on Saturday in Siena.

Wanting to make the most of the day, I caught the early train at 5:15 from Bologna. The station was pretty well deserted, but I still got hassled by a young woman for my change after buying my ticket.

Leah met me in Piazza il Campo for breakfast as the sun peeked into the square. We debated continuing on to San Ghimingani, a nearby UNESCO World Heritage Center, or simply exploring Siena. Aaron added his input an hour later when he woke up, and the consensus was for Siena.

We got the all-inclusive pass to visit the Duomo and spent most of the day using that up. The cathedral was super cool—lots of white marble carved in gothic style. The bell tower was layered with black and white marble and looked like something out of Beetlejuice. The arched ceiling inside was dark blue and peppered with stars, and the marble we walked over depicted religious scenes.

The facade of the cathedral

One of the floor mosaics that displays the historical factions of Italy

One of the highlights of the cathedral was the Piccolomini Library, which was added in 1492 and houses volumes of illuminated choir books. Everyone was looking up at the frescoes on the ceiling, which were gilt and spectacular, but I could barely contain my excitement over the 520-year-old books.

We visited the museum, the crypt, and the baptistery, but the cathedral competes with the old archway adjacent to the museum for the highlight of the trip. We climbed two tight spiral staircases to get a phenomenal view of the city.

Piazza il Campo

I should have illicited some restaurant tips from a friend who’d studied here a couple years ago, but we made do. We spent the late afternoon soaking up the remaining sunlight at the Medicea Fortress before settling into a few bottles of wine and a orchestra in a piazza.

Caramel and dark cherries

I said my goodbyes around 8 to catch a bus and then train back to Bologna. I hit a minor snag at my first of two transfer stations, opting to go find a restroom with only a few minutes before my train arrived. Sure enough, I missed it. Thinking the train coming in 20 minutes would still probably allow me to make my second connection, I held off on the panic attack.

Well, you’ve probably guessed that I wouldn’t be writing about this at all if I’d made that second connection. I spent the night in a Florence train station, an hour away from Bologna, until a train came at 4:40. It was not my most comfortable night, but I made it through and got to listen to most of The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

I’ll tell you, though, I’m still tired.