Siena

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Siena

We got up a bit late because we were up a little late last night. We’re both a bit sore and tired (an Italian vacation done Americn-style will do that to you). Breakfast was definitely continental, and very European, featuring cheese and a couple varieties of sliced meat, along with cerial and bread.

We wanted to dry clean a few things so we started hunting for dry cleaners. We first headed near the Campo (the central square) to the place suggested by the hotel – they said 3 days, and we’re leaving in two. Across the street was a shop for the Siena professional football (soccer) team, so I got a cool mouse pad and a little banner (they didn’t have XXL jerseys in stock).

The dry cleaner suggested another one to try, so we walked over; took a while to find them but they would take 3 days as well.

We walked back to the Campo and had lunch – it was good but it was also touristy. The waiter suggested another dry cleaner to try. They were closed for siesta, so we went to the Palazzo Publico, which is the most important civic building in Siena. Here is the text of the brochure:

“The first floor of Palazzo Pubblico, built starting from 1297, hosts the Museo Civico (City Museum) accessible from the Cortile del Podesta. The tour begins with a wide range of pictures, Quadreria, (3-4-5-6) and continues with the Sala del Risorgimento(7) with a monumental cycle of fresco paintings representing episodes of life of Vittorio Emanuele II, first Icing of Italy. To get to the Sala del Concistoro (12) we pass through two adjoining rooms, the Sala di Balia (10) with wall paintings realized at the beginning of XV century by Spinello Aretino and the Sala dei Cardinali (11) where reliquaries keep precious carved chests. The Sala del Concistoro is famous for the Beccafumi’s vault realized between 1529 and 1535, representing episodes of civic virtue taken from Greek and Roman history. On the right along the corridor (14) where on the left we can see the Cappella (15) realized at the beginning of XV century and decorated by Taddeo di Bartolo, we enter the adjoining Sala del Mappamondo (16) which takes its name from the lost parchment disc on which in 1344 Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted all Sienese state properties. This is the widest room of Palazzo Pubblico, used since the beginning to host the meeting of the General Council. The wall on the left holds the famous Maesta, painted between 1315 and 1321 by Simone Martini, which is one of the biggest masterpieces of the European Gothic style. Higher on the opposite wall Simone realized the seizure of the Montemassi Castle in the Maremma region by the War Captain Guidoriccio da Fogliano, in 1328. This was a proof of the political and military successes reached by the Sienese State in those years. The adjoining room is called Sala della Pace or Buon Governo (Good Government room) (17) as a consequence of the explicit message represented. The wide cycle of fresco paintings here displayed, painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between 1338 and 1340, represents the allegory of the regime of the”Nine”lords of Siena with its effects on the city and the countryside. The tour ends with the Sala dei Pilastri (18) where several paintings and sculptures are kept. The museum tour also includes two rooms used as Gipsoteca (19-20) and the monumental loggia of XIV century (21) which offers a beautiful view of the landscape at the back of the Palace.”

After going through the museum, we went back to the third dry cleaner, and she as well said 3 days – it turns out all dry cleaners inside the city send the clothes out to be dry cleaned, there is no processing inside the city center. So, we went back to the Campo and had a snack and a seat for a while (sitting costs extra, most people stand at the bar, have a quick coffee and walk on). On the way out we talked for a while with a woman that worked there; she had worked with children for two years in Egypt and operated her own underwear shop for a while, and now waiting tables to decide what to do next.

We decided to see the Pinicoteca, or picture gallery. Its huge, no pictures allowed, and there are no books either! So you’ll have to trust me that we saw more paintings of women in blue and red with little babies, or dead people on crosses, than you’ll ever want to see. This was the coolest ticket of them all – engraved and with raised ink, really gorgeous (I may have to frame it).

We stopped at a little cafe and got water, Coke Light and a pan forte (a medieval sweet cake) to take back to the room.

We headed back to the hotel so we could wash some clothes in the sink and relax a bit before dinner.

We had dinner at a small trattoria by the hotel, which was good; I finally got to try the traditional Florentine desert of cookies with a sweet wine liquor for dipping. Then well deserved sleep.

A traditional Tuscan desert - cookies with sweet wine for dipping - very tasty!

A traditional Tuscan desert - cookies with sweet wine for dipping - very tasty!

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