Kara and I took our day off together yesterday and drove to Siena. Driving in Europe is not as bad as I originally thought it was! Of course, I still will refuse to drive in Rome because that is a completely different story. It was a beautiful, sunny drive as we wound through the Tuscan country side listening to Jeff Buckley and U2.
Siena is an old medieval city with the typical cobblestone streets and wall around it. It is a lot different than Florence in that it is a lot less “artsy” and expressive. Instead, it has architecture that is very straight and rigid. Siena is also known for its horse race, the Palio, which is held twice a year in Siena’s Piazza Del Campo on July 2nd and August 15th. In the Palio, the horses do not wear saddles and the jockeys ride bareback. The horses race around the shell-shaped Piazza and the race usually lasts about 3 minutes. I hope to make the race on July 2nd.
Roman history (notice that I specify Roman) says that Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus (from the infamous story of Romulus and Remus – Romulus being who Rome was named after in case you didn’t know). Siena has an infamous Cathedral that was supposed to be the largest Cathedral in the world until the project ran out of funding.
In the morning, we explored the Siena market and had pizza for lunch. The Siena market was a lot different than the Florence market because it wasn’t filled with touristy items such as Italian leather, olive oil, ect., but rather featured everyday items Italians use such as produce, meats, cheeses, second-hand clothes, ect. It was a great way to get a taste of the culture.
We had coffee after lunch in the Piazza Del Campo, where the famous horse races take place. I ordered my favorite Shakerato coffee drink.
In the afternoon, we stumbled across the intriguing Torture Museum and decided to take a look. After reading and seeing the first 10 torture devices they used during the inquisition, I got so uncomfortable and sick to my stomach that I had to step out.
In the afternoon we decided to journey beyond Siena to Terme di Petriolo, which is one of the natural hot mineral baths in Italy. The sulfur definitely made it reek of rotten eggs, but the location had to be one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I have ever been to. When I lay in the pool I could feel my skin soaking up all of the minerals and any stress that my body had was instantly released. The Romans really had it good back in the day compared to other civilizations with their fertile land, endless vino, beautiful landscapes, and mineral baths to top it off. Spoiled Italians!
Kara also took some photos of me to use for her “health and wellness” section of her medical photography website (www.karaburns.com).