Italians live in chaos and are entirely without any commitment to order. Everything is sort of pandemonium, which we just find attractively fascinating. On route to Siena via a Lidl we spend half an hour shopping and an hour people watching. They don’t queue, they argue over plum or cherry tomatoes and they wont move out the way without a small bribe. The best is they do half a shop, go to the check out, place their items on the conveyer belt and then run around like crazy getting the rest of their shop. I could watch Italians all day.
We arrive in Siena first thing and park about 4 kilometres outside of Siena on a quiet car park with reasonable shade. It is extremely hot with our thermometer showing 40+, so shade is priority. We let Mac n Tosh out for a run under the shade of the trees. After half an hour playing ball their tongues were traipsing on the floor. Time for a drink and a sleep.
Whilst the dudes have a kip, we scoot off in to Siena. We park the motorbike at the bottom of the hill. We take a steep walk up to the city, where old, sometimes tumbledown houses were packed together in a dense and jumble. Dotted along roughly cobbled streets that were sometimes all but vertical. It was a strenuous climb and even locals could be seen pausing for breath. A hand against a wall then all of a sudden people appeared out from a gap in the street. Where have they come from? Just our bloody luck, we find an underground escalator network that takes your all the way from the bottom to the top. We take the half a dozen remaining escalators and let the aircon cool our brow.
Siena is gorgeous, an infinitely charming place of cobbled streets, ancient underground aqueduct and gothic architecture. The heart of the city is the main square, the Piazza del Campo, lined with brick and cream coloured buildings and filled with tables and chairs from the cafes ranged around it. There are no balconies in the square only windows divided vertically in to two or tree parts. This old city planning rule dates back to 1297.
In the middle of the shell shaped piazza the Fonte Gaia. To the far side, the public palace with its huge elegant gothic tower, Torre del Mangia. Craig tootles over to look at the detail in the courtyard of palace. I follow behind until I notice a crowd gathering outside the church. An Italian wedding but the bride and groom was like a ken and barbie doll viewed through a crowd of heads. With not much to see my attention turned to gelato, Italian ice-cream. Like a slavering zombie I went in to autopilot and returned 2 minutes later with pistachio ice cream all around my chops (click to enlarge images).
We wander down Via di Citta, one of the most famous streets in the city. Lined with beautiful buildings, shops and the wondering courtyard of the music academy. Further along an archway in ruins, the Opera House. But the real gem in around the corner.
The duomo! Unquestionably one of Italy’s finest Gothic churches, Siena’s cathedral is equally stunning inside and out (sorry loads of pictures!). Featuring the work of Italy’s finest artists of the day: Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini. The cathedral in its present form was begun in 1229, and the dome was completed in 1264.
The external facade of Siena duomo was a bucket list item and it did not disappoint. The cathedral’s façade took our breath away, a masterpiece of design and sculpture. A beautiful rose window and Venetian mosaics adding to the already colourful effect of green, red, and white marble inlay that covers the building and its striking campanile. It is one of the finest achievements of Italian Gothic.
The entire width of the front is filled by three doorways of equal height with a slender tower at each end. Above the central doorway is a rose-window. Beautifully detailed sculptures decorate the remaining areas so harmoniously that it never seems overdone. We stand in the doorways and look up. The facade comes alive with statues, pillars, columns and pastel colour all around you. It is the most beautiful facade we’ve ever seen.
A couple of hours had passed and we didn’t want to leave the dogs too long. Off we shot only to be greeted by two sleeping dudes. They were quite happy having a nap under gentle air of the fantastic fan. I took them for a walk whilst Craig prepared our evening meal.
At sunset, we hopped back on Eor and zipped around the city. The views from the higher points were memorable and romantic. With the setting sun crowning the terracotta rooftops followed by a perfect full moon over the skyline of duomo. Siena