Since we arrived late in Volterra the previous day, we had a quick walk around the town before we packed up and hit the road to Siena. Starting with a height advantage helped, but the overall trip was still long, and it was a brutally hot day at times.
We stopped for a break at the medieval fort of Monteriggioni halfway along the route to Siena. The road up and through the town gate was so steep that it had ridges created by interleaving the paving stones to give extra traction!
One of the gates into Monteriggioni.
The fort/town is one of Siena’s defensive structures built around the 13th century to protect trade routes against attacks from their rival Florence. In fact, this is where the Dante Alleghieri hid out after he had angered some powerful Florentines with his caricatures of them in his Inferno. It still has all of its tall walls and 13 turrets intact.
Main square of Monteriggioni
Siena is possibly a challenger to Florence, in terms of having impressive structures. Siena has wide streets line with 4, 5 and often times 6 story stone buildings, whereas Florentine streets are smaller and jam-packed with shorter buildings (which rarely surpass 3 stories), and aesthetically are less pleasing.
A square lined with the former homes of the Sienese elite.
Conversely, while Florence’s grand cathedral is monstrously sized, the smaller Sienese counterpart is far more refined, with very accurate stonework and an ornate floor – complete with tricolour stone engravings of saints and some scenes from the life of Jesus. One can only imagine the time and resources put into such art work.
Interior – Siena Cathedral
Exterior – Siena cathedral
Surely one of the highlights of our two days in Siena was the town square, il campo, which is a huge semi-circular piazza with a concave brick centre. We ate dinner in one of the trattoiri of the square on our first night.
Town hall and the surrounding Il Campo piazza.
In Siena, we were lucky to have our hotel right beside a camping store and a grocery store. We bought a gas cartridge for my camp stove and then some pasta, and made our own dinner the second night.
We (*Steve*) accidently bought some bad beer for our dinner aperitives; it had a gross after-taste! If you look carefully at the bottle, the monk seems to be holding his stomach in protest:
Here are some more pics of our stay:
Cathedral from nearby wall.
Old city gate.
In the bapistry.
Medieval songbook from cathedral library.
The sienese tried to copy (and best) Florence’s city hall with theirs.
Happy New Years everyone! A bit late, yes, but better late than never. Now school is getting busy – exams come in a month, and many final project on the way. But, before all this business started, I managed a few more ice-capades during the last bit of the holidays. Woke up, and made the best darn breakfast you could hope for – eggs a la over-easy, a few strips of my special cheese-filled pork strips, and an improvised hash-brown-like-thing (involving a few fried onions, potatoes, carrots, and a mushroom or two for good measure). Mmm.
It tasted much better than it looks
I needed a good load of carbs for the day, if I was to be out, so I complemented the protein from the eggs, cheese and meat with a few slices of toast. Can’t be the smell of toast and fried eggs in the morning. Met up with my pal and we biked out to the lake, finding a bay partly frozen. Knowing it wasn’t (too) deep, we ventured out on the ice-floes to see what it was like. Not deep enough to make it over the head, but one could be very uncomfortably wet until they get back home.
On the ice.
Chris, steadying himself for the jump
Then came ice-bowling.
It’s actually more like curling. With the object being… …just to even knock the other person’s rocks.
The Guild Inn is full of interesting sights… it is essentially an abandoned place, and good for some UEing. But I wouldn’t enter the actual hotel part (well, what’s left) as they supposedly have a silent alarm to alert the police.
The abandoned green house.
My snow-covered steed. O’Malley prefers an MTB.
We next went cycling a bit west to explore the lake front near Rosetta McClain Gardens. My camera’s battery died, but I would have loved to take a picture of the homeless camp down there. Why? Exactly. Why is there a homeless campout here of all places? I wouldn’t have expected. Well, it looked like it may have been abandoned, but we didn’t want to disturb if it wasn’t.
This ride more than confirmed the unsuitability of the waterfront trail. Kingston road took 15 minutes on the uphill return, but the waterfront trail path took 45 minutes on the downhill to get to Rosetta McClain gardens. However, I was almost sideswiped by a truck on K-town Rd…. frightening, when you have to deal with ice already.